During the 2016 United States presidential election, analysts highlighted the impact of misinformation which allegedly led to Donald Trump's victory over Hilary Clinton. In fact, a recent study claims the uncontrolled distribution of "fake news" on social media services such as Facebook and Twitter might be to blame. With the upcoming 2020 elections barely over a month away, the former's Oversight Board is reportedly slated to launch in October and hopefully provide users with the opportunity to question certain content moderation decisions.

With growing complaints from both users and analysts over its policies and failure to address hate speech, allegations, misinformation, and other similar content, the company needed to take action. Therefore, in 2018 Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg proposed the establishment of the Oversight Board. According to a report by CNBC, it has been called the platform's "Supreme Court" and will likely start next month.

"We are currently testing the newly deployed technical systems that will allow users to appeal and the Board to review cases. Assuming those tests go to plan, we expect to open user appeals in mid to late October," said a representative from the group. Regarding the established timeframe after a complaint has been submitted, it would likely take not more than 90 days.

"The board is paying attention, and is, of course, aware of the worries around this election and the role that social media will play," explained Internet Sans Frontières executive director of digital rights organisation Julie Owono. "When we launch, we will be ready to take requests, wherever they come from, and from whoever they come from, as long as it's within our mandate."

Owono is one of the 20 members of the Oversight Board which also includes Zuckerberg. After Russia's purported interference in the 2016 U.S. polls, reported inactions against hate speech which have led to violence in some regions such as Myanmar, Facebook needed to salvage its reputation. Even the civil unrests related to George Floyd's death in the hands of local authorities were fuelled by unmoderated posts on its pages.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said he fears "an increased risk of civil unrest" after the vote on November 3. Photo: GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / CHIP SOMODEVILLA

The tool which will be used by the Oversight Board was curated by its members along with Facebook's engineers. Upon launch, it will initially support 18 languages with more to follow in the future. Owono noted that the goal is to promote diversity given the platform's massive international user base. She also assures that all requests will be thoroughly reviewed and will be approached equally.