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Facebook Oversight Board member calls for more transparency

By Ramishah Maruf, CNN Business

As more of Facebook’s internal documents are revealed, Facebook Oversight Board member and PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel emphasized that the platform must do a better job with transparency.

The Oversight Board’s first report, released last week, revealed that the group of independent content moderators prompted Facebook to restore more than 30 pieces of content covering major issues. It also found users are often in the dark when content is removed by Facebook, and don’t know why they’ve been banned or had their content taken down.

“The Facebook team treats individuals as users, not as customers, so there’s no sort of customer service,” Nossel said on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” Sunday. “I don’t want Facebook to just wipe content out without any explanation. I want people to have a recourse if they believe their ability to express themselves has been unjustifiably impaired.”

The board also said Facebook was not “fully forthcoming” about its cross-check system, which is used to make content decisions for high-profile users.

The Oversight Board is an effort by Facebook to bring in outside expertise to oversee the platform’s content moderation decisions. There are 20 members on the board with backgrounds ranging from law and human rights to journalism.

The board adjudicates cases on controversial content that is both left up or taken down — but these cases are just “the tip of the iceberg” when it comes to oversight at Facebook, Nossel said.

“They didn’t want to bear the full weight of responsibility for big questions like, ‘Should Donald Trump be allowed on the platform,'” Nossel said. “I think they’re very ambivalent about regulation.”

The first of the Facebook Papers revealed that the company’s Chief Operational Officer Sheryl Sandberg downplayed the platform’s role in the Jan. 6 insurrection. However, internal Facebook documents reviewed by CNN showed a company that was fundamentally unprepared to moderate the “Stop the Steal” movement, which was a lead organizer of the insurrection.

The documents were provided by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen as evidence to support disclosures she made to the Securities and Exchange Commission and provided to Congress in redacted form by Haugen’s legal counsel. The redacted versions were obtained by a consortium of 17 US news organizations, including CNN.

“They’ve got to do more to police hatred, vitriol, bullying on the platform and we’re seeing that coming out in spades through all of these different revelations,” Nossel said.

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Watch this space: CNN is one of 17 US news organizations reporting on the Facebook Papers. More coverage is forthcoming. Read our ongoing coverage of Facebook at

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