Frequently Asked Questions
Last Updated March 2020
What is the board’s relationship to the Facebook company?
The Oversight Board is a global body of experts that will review Facebook’s most difficult and significant decisions related to content on Facebook and Instagram. It will make binding decisions on that content, which means Facebook must implement them unless doing so could violate the law. The board will also be able to issue policy recommendations.
The board’s independent judgement is critical to its function. Both the board and its administration are funded by an independent trust and supported by an independent company that is separate from Facebook. The board’s structure, responsibilities, purpose and relationship to Facebook are outlined in the Oversight Board Charter. The board acts as a service provider to Facebook.
Are board members Facebook employees?
Members of the board do not include current or former employees or contingent workers of the Facebook company.
How were the initial group of board members selected?
Over the course of 2019, Facebook consulted over 2,000 individuals from across the world to ensure a global perspective on how the board should be designed and who should serve on it.
Individuals selected to be the initial group of board members have demonstrated experience at deliberating thoughtfully and as an open-minded contributor on a team; are skilled at making and explaining decisions based on a set of policies or standards; and have familiarity with matters relating to digital content and governance, including free expression, civic discourse, safety, privacy and technology.
How are new board members being selected? And can I recommend a board candidate for consideration?
The firm Baker McKenzie is managing a recommendations portal where anyone can recommend qualified candidates for consideration as a potential board member. Recommended candidates will be asked to fill out a form. This will cover biographical information and relevant experience as well as four short essay questions relating to the qualities and behaviors expected of potential members of the Oversight Board.
Who can appeal a decision?
In order to submit an appeal, individuals must have an active account on the service where the content was posted. This means the account cannot be disabled and the person must be able to log into it. The person submitting the appeal must have already requested that Facebook or Instagram review the content decision and received a final decision.
What is the likelihood my case will be reviewed?
The Oversight Board will select which cases to review based on complexity and global significance. Due to volume, only a small number of submitted cases will be heard.
Is the appeals process anonymous?
No. The board will receive relevant information about individuals who submit appeals, such as their names, locations, age or gender.
If the board reviews a case, it will produce a written explanation of its final decision, which will be available for the public to read on this website. People whose content is selected for review may choose to give permission for details that could easily identify them to be shared in that written statement. This permission may be withdrawn at any time.
If permission is not given, the written statement will be reviewed before it is released to the public to remove details that could easily identify them.
What information will the board receive in order to make its decisions?
If you appeal a content decision to the Oversight Board or Facebook has asked the board to review a decision on your content, the board may receive some or all of the following:
The board may reference any of these sources in the public, written explanation of its final decision. You can choose whether the board can include details that could easily identify you or data with special protections about you in that explanation.
What are “details that could easily identify me”?
These details include:
If you submit an appeal or provide the board with further context about an appeal on your content, you will be asked whether you give permission for the board to share details that could easily identify you in the public, written explanation of its final decision.
If you later wish to withdraw this consent, you can go to Case Status and do so. If the board has already published a decision on your case, the board will remove the explanation from this website and take out details that could easily identify you. We will also take steps to remove more general details about you that could help readers guess your identity. The board will then re-post the new, edited explanation. Please note that the board cannot change any commentary about this case which has already been published by other people or organizations.
What is “data with special protections”?
“Data with special protections” is information about your racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, trade union membership, health, sex life or sexual orientation, criminal conviction or offenses. This information is subject to special protections, including under EU law.
If you submit an appeal or provide the board with further context about an appeal on your content, you will be asked whether you give permission to let Facebook process data with special protections that you choose to provide about yourself. If you later wish to withdraw this consent, you can go to Case Status and choose “delete my information.”
You will also be asked whether you give permission for the board to share data with special protections about you in the public, written explanation of its final decision. If you later wish to withdraw this permission, you can go to Case Status and do so. If the board has already published a decision on your case, the board will remove the explanation from this website and take out your data with special protections. The board will then re-post the new, edited explanation. Please note that the board cannot change any commentary about this case that has already been published by other people or organizations.
What happens if I believe that my content was taken out of context?
People whose content is selected for review by the board have the opportunity to tell the board more about the context of their content. In addition, the board may acquire information necessary to better understand the context of content under review. This includes referring to a pool of subject matter experts that will provide supplemental information, such as cultural context.
What happens if I delete my information?
Deleting your information will permanently delete the answers you submitted, as seen in your Appeal Summary.
If your case has not yet been selected by the board and you delete your information, the following will happen:
If your case has been selected by the board and you delete your information, the following will happen:
If Facebook requested the board review a content decision and you submitted further context on your postDeleting your information will permanently delete the answers you submitted, as seen in your Submission Summary. It will not impact whether the board reviews the case.
If you delete your information, the following will happen:
How will I find out if Facebook or Instagram’s decision has been reversed?
People who have submitted appeals can check the status of their case on the Oversight Board’s website. If the board selects a case for review, it will produce a written explanation of its final decision, which will be available for the public to read on this website. The board’s decision will be shared with the person who submitted the appeal.
What is a reference number and where do I find it?
The reference number begins with FB or IG followed by eight numbers and letters. Facebook or Instagram will provide a reference number if one of its content decisions is eligible for appeal to the Oversight Board. You must have this reference number in order to submit an appeal.
If the decision is not eligible for appeal, you will not see a reference number.