A floating staircase against a wall, with the stairs facing downwards.
A floating staircase against a wall, with the stairs facing downwards.
A floating staircase against a wall, with the stairs facing downwards.

Announcing the outcome of a human rights report on the Oversight Board


December 2020

Today the Oversight Board is releasing the outcome of a human rights report requested by the Board and delivered by the non-profit organization Business for Social Responsibility (BSR). We are also publishing our procedures for how Board Members select and review cases, as well as how they make policy recommendations to Facebook.

From the outset, our Members have been guided by the goal of developing an institution that makes decisions in a way that is independent, principled and transparent. This will help us hold Facebook to account over the long-term and defend freedom of expression and human rights.

Building a principled organization Building a principled organization

As a body whose decisions impact users around the world, it is vital that we respect human rights in all aspects of our work.

Recognizing this, in 2019 Facebook asked the non-profit organization BSR to conduct a human rights review of the Board.

The review made a number of recommendations, from making the Board accessible to vulnerable groups, to providing training for Members and staff on human rights issues.

Earlier this year the Board worked with BSR directly, requesting a progress report against their original recommendations based on documents including our Bylaws, Charter and Rulebook.

Today, BSR have published their report.

Of BSR’s original 34 recommendations, the Board has made:

  • ‘Good progress’ on 17 recommendations.
  • ‘Partial progress’ on nine recommendations, meaning key elements of the BSR’s recommendation are on track to be achieved.
  • Five recommendations are ‘not yet determined’. As some of these recommendations depend on how the Board operates in practice, the issues they raise will be better addressed as we move into a regular rhythm of decisions next year.
  • Three recommendations are ‘not yet addressed’. One of these is BSR’s proposal for a ‘user advocate’ to support users making their case to the Board. While we have no immediate plans for such a role, we are looking at ways to better support people who appeal to the Board and will announce more on this in 2021. The other two recommendations under this heading would require changes to our Charter, which is not currently foreseen, as we are focusing on making progress in those areas that fall within the Board’s scope.

Overall, the report states that the Board has made ‘good progress’ towards BSR’s recommendations and we will study these carefully as we continue to develop our processes as an institution.

Building a transparent organization Building a transparent organization

As a Board, we understand that how we make decisions is as important as what we decide. By publishing today’s report and sharing as much information as possible, we hope to make the processes which underpin these decisions understandable and predictable.

As part of this commitment to transparency, we are publishing some of the Board’s procedures that are quoted in the BSR report:

  • Our Rulebook details how Board Members select and review cases, as well as how they make policy recommendations to Facebook. These procedures have been established by Co-Chairs and Members and will be updated from time to time.
  • Our ‘Overarching Criteria’ for selecting cases. These state that the Board will choose cases that affect lots of users, are of critical importance to public discourse, or raise important questions about Facebook's policies. These cases will reflect Facebook’s user base, representing a range of regions and languages.

We will also be publishing the Board’s updated Bylaws early next year.

As a Board, we will continue to demonstrate the value of an independent, principled and transparent process, which will better serve the online community and underpin our progress in the new year.

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