- The Washington Times - Monday, May 11, 2020

The new oversight board charged with policing Facebook’s content enforcement decisions may not start working before the November election, The Washington Times has learned.

The board’s website says it will begin reviewing cases about restricted content on Facebook and Instagram this year, but board co-Chair Michael McConnell said he would not guarantee the board will be functional before the end of 2020.

“This is a long-term project,” Mr. McConnell told The Washington Times. “I, personally, think it’s unfortunate that we’re getting started in an election year but as someone has pointed out to me it’s always an election year somewhere.”

President Trump’s reelection campaign sharply criticized Facebook after the company announced the board’s first 20 members earlier this month. Mr. Trump’s campaign took issue with the selection of board member Pamela Karlan, a Stanford University law professor, who testified to Congress in support of impeachment charges against Mr. Trump.

Mr. Trump’s campaign has also questioned whether a “majority foreign board” would make decisions regarding U.S. election content and accused the board of likely censoring content from Mr. Trump’s supporters in the months leading up to the November election. Trump campaign digital director Gary Coby labeled the board a “big scam” by Facebook.

“If FB turns off your account in the final 3mo of the election, you get ZERO recourse!” Mr. Coby tweeted Friday. “And that’s because FBs censor police, who 75% are NOT AMERICAN, will choose to keep you silenced for at least 90 days.”

Appeals of Facebook and Instagram content-policy decisions must be submitted to the board within 15 days, and the board estimates its reviews will take approximately 90 days to complete, according to the board’s website.

Mr. McConnell said Monday that five-member panels including at least one person from the region most affected by the content at issue will make initial decisions, which he anticipates will take place well within the estimated three-month window.

“I see the 90 days as being the outer limit; it is certainly my hope that a decision could be made much more rapidly than that,” Mr. McConnell said. “But I can’t promise this board is going to be able to move quickly enough to solve all the problems. My only expectation is that it’s better than having no review process at all.”

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