The Consortium on Democracy and Disinformation and the Asian Center for Journalism at Ateneo de Manila University on Wednesday dialogued with the lone Southeast Asian representative to Facebook’s new Oversight Board, formed early this month to make decisions on the social networking site’s content.

Endy Bayuni, senior editor of the Jakarta Post, said about five million posts were being appealed to Facebook weekly, and the board would make a decision on each within at least two weeks.

Translators and experts are needed to resolve very difficult issues, he said.

Bayuni said the board could also become more proactive in making rulings, and decisions on certain matters might be made public.

Nicole Curato, a Filipino sociologist and expert on deliberative democracy, and Jenny Domino, associate legal adviser at International Commission of Jurists in Myanmar, served as reactors, while the consortium’s John Nery was moderator of the Manila session.

Curato said the board should consider liberal democracy and skepticism against liberal bias toward content, and that questions on ethics should not be left to experts but to ordinary people, similar to the US jury system.

Domino said the board could become “a global speech court” and lamented the lopsided geographic representation in favor of the United States, which has five members.

On May 6, 2020 Nick Clegg, Facebook vice president for global affairs and communications, introduced the first 20 out of the target 40 board members.

The board will make the “most difficult and significant decisions around content” on the 2.2 billion-user global social media platform, he said.

The autonomous board is an additional layer to Facebook and Instagram’s community standards, but Clegg said the body would make “decisions [that] often are not easy to make,” adding that most judgments would “not have obvious, or uncontroversial, outcomes and yet many of them have significant implications for free expression.”

“We also expect that the board’s membership itself will face criticism,” Clegg said. “But its long-term success depends on it having members who bring different perspectives and expertise to bear.” (Jojo Mangahis)