Working in Partnership

Today, more and more companies are seeking external expertise on content moderation decisions. Fundamentally, independent oversight is about companies opening their internal processes and inviting outsiders to review their decisions. This type of challenge and scrutiny leads to better and more robust decisions, helping to build trust with users in the long-term: a win-win for communities and companies.

From the outset, the Oversight Board has been designed to test an independent approach to content moderation, which, if successful, could also be adapted to other companies. The framework that we have developed has value for other tech companies looking to embed independent oversight into their platforms and services.

Through our experiences so far, we have identified five characteristics that could help other tech companies looking to establish an oversight body:


Any oversight body must be structured to allow for independent judgment. To be successful in scrutinizing content decisions, it must be free from the commercial, reputational or political constraints of platforms. At the Oversight Board, we have not hesitated to overturn Meta’s decisions. This separation is crucial for building legitimacy with users and civil society groups across the world.


To trust a company’s decisions, people need to understand how they are made. In preparing our case decisions, we include as much information about policies and their enforcement that had not previously been available to the public as we can. To be accountable and genuine in their commitment to upholding free speech, tech companies must tell users why their posts were removed or their accounts deactivated. They must also do more to explain why they take decisions and be more transparent when governments or state actors call on them to remove content.


Most users of social-media platforms are based outside the United States and Europe. Many of the concerns about social media’s negative impacts – as well as its benefits – are felt most acutely in countries beyond those borders. To be able to trust a company’s decision-making, people everywhere, in all parts of the world, need more than just “engagement.” They need to feel heard and represented at the decision-making table. At the Oversight Board, our members have lived in close to 30 countries and speak more than 30 languages. This diversity enriches our final decisions.

Human Rights

Today, tech companies face a significant challenge when moderating content. What rules should apply to billions of people of different nationalities, languages and cultures? We think international human rights standards are a crucial part of the answer. These apply equally to everyone and provide a consistent framework to consider a user’s right to free expression alongside other human rights, like the right to life or privacy.


Finally, you need partnership. Independent oversight bodies will only have a lasting impact if companies give them access to their data and processes. While there are sometimes instances in which sharing information could compromise user privacy or allow bad actors to game policies, our work depends on data and information that only Meta can provide. This kind of openness also helps to build legitimacy and trust with users and civil society. Companies also need to show a willingness to implement recommendations, as Meta has done with many of our proposals. In short, there needs to be a willingness to learn from both sides.

A Partner in Content Moderation

We want to work with companies that share our belief that transparent and accountable content governance, overseen by independent bodies, is an essential part of creating an online environment that respects freedom of expression and other human rights. Companies willing to make a meaningful commitment to such standards and structures, to the benefit of their users and society more widely, will earn trust and demonstrate their serious intent to regulators.

Any approach to independent governance will need to be adapted to the specific company and its work. Through our work with Meta, we have already overcome many of the operational hurdles associated with establishing an independent oversight body.

As we think about the best path to holding the tech industry accountable, we encourage all companies to consider building independent oversight into their platforms and services.