Jun 27, 2019

Facebook's content oversight plan garners strong reactions

Illustration: Aida Amer/Axios

Facebook is taking the next step in its effort to create an independent review board to make calls on what content should be allowed on the site.

Our thought bubble: Establishing such an oversight entity is super complicated, and the feedback shows that even experts are split over how to handle the mechanics. Also, Facebook will have to really be willing to empower the board and support its independence or it will be easily undermined. 

What's new: It's releasing a report today summarizing the feedback from more than two dozen forums and roundtable meetings over the last five months. The report focuses on three main areas: membership, content decisions, and the board's independence and governance.

Key takeaways from today's report:

  • Plenty of people wanted the board to increase its scope to include AI, privacy and misinformation, among other topics. But Facebook plans to keep the scope narrowly focused on content issues.
  • There was concern about Facebook choosing the board's members, but no consensus on a better alternative. There was also disagreement over whether board membership should be a full-time job, which could limit the applicant pool.
  • And while there was unanimity around a need for diversity, there was debate over whether all members should be active Facebook users, or at least active in social media broadly.
  • Other points of contention include how cases will be chosen for review, the board's role in establishing broader content policy, and degree of contact with Facebook staff.

What's next: The company plans to release a final version of the board's charter in August, but wanted people to be aware of the feedback it has gotten.

  • "The next step going forward is going to be to try to lock down some of these decisions, make some of these decisions over the next few months and launch this independent oversight board by the end of the year," CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a video the company is releasing today.
  • Zuckerberg also defended Facebook's decision to keep the focus on content issues rather than expand to other topics, so that the effort "doesn't collapse under its own weight." But he added several times that he's open to the board's role broadening over time.

History lesson: Zuckerberg expressed a desire for some sort of independent oversight in early 2018 and offered more details in November. A draft charter was released in January.

  • Meanwhile, in an interview at the Aspen Ideas Festival on Wednesday, Zuckerberg defended the company's decision to leave up a doctored video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but admitted other actions could have been taken sooner.

Go deeper: Facebook's constitutional moment

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U.S. coronavirus updates: Infections number tops 140,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The novel coronavirus has now infected over 142,000 people in the U.S. — more than any other country in the world, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: COVID-19 had killed over 2,400 people in the U.S. by Sunday night. That's far fewer than in Italy, where over 10,000 people have died — accounting for a third of the global death toll. The number of people who've recovered from the virus in the U.S. exceeded 2,600 Sunday evening.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 721,584 — Total deaths: 33,958 — Total recoveries: 149,122.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 142,106 — Total deaths: 2,479 — Total recoveries: 2,686.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump says his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30.
  4. Public health updates: Fauci says 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from virus.
  5. State updates: Louisiana governor says state is on track to exceed ventilator capacity by end of this week — Cuomo says Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "panicked" some people into fleeing New York
  6. World updates: Italy on Sunday reports 756 new deaths, bringing its total 10,779. Spain reports almost 840 dead, another new daily record that bring its total to over 6,500.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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World coronavirus updates: Cases surge past 720,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

There are now more than 720,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins. The virus has now killed more than 33,000 people — with Italy alone reporting over 10,000 deaths.

The big picture: Governments around the world have stepped up public health and economic measures to stop the spread of the virus and soften the financial impact. In the U.S., now the site of the largest outbreak in the world, President Trump said Sunday that his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health