Earlier this week Facebook revealed the first 20 members of its new Oversight Board. The organisation will act independently from its parent company and, perhaps more importantly, will have the capacity and authority to pass judgement on any policies that Facebook brings to the fore.

While it remains to be seen what kind of power the Oversight Board actually has, its assembly is at least cause for optimism, especially as some of the policies that Facebook has approved in recent years have proved rather divisive.

How the social media platform handles campaign ads and advertising in general for example, serves as a great illustration.

In terms of its power, the Board’s latest press release states that “The Board will take final and binding decisions on whether specific content should be allowed or removed from Facebook and Instagram.”

“The Board will review whether content is consistent with Facebook and Instagram’s policies and values, as well as a commitment to upholding freedom of expression within the framework of international norms of human rights. We will make decisions based on these principles, and the impact on users and society, without regard to Facebook’s economic, political or reputational interests. Facebook must implement our decisions, unless implementation could violate the law,” it explains.

As for the Oversight Board members themselves, the initial 20 will see a further 20 being added at a later stage. The ones currently listed are a diverse mix, with Facebook detailing as much in the infographic below.

“Over time we expect to grow the Board to around 40 Members. While we cannot claim to represent everyone, we are confident that our global composition will underpin, strengthen and guide our decision-making,” it says.

For now the one thing that stands out for us is where the members come from, with the vast majority situated in the United States and Europe. There are three representatives from Africa – Afia Asantewaa Asare-Kyei, Maina Kiai and Julie Owono – so for the next batch of 20, we’re hoping members from Africa, Middle East, Asia and Latin America are added.

[Image – Photo by Dane Deaner on Unsplash]