IGF 2021 Town Hall #37 The Oversight Board, one year on: Lessons in online content moderation

Wednesday, 8th December, 2021 (16:30 UTC) - Wednesday, 8th December, 2021 (17:30 UTC)
Ballroom B

Digital policy and human rights frameworks: What is the relationship between digital policy and development and the established international frameworks for civil and political rights as set out in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and further interpretation of these in the online context provided by various resolutions of the Human Rights Council? How do policy makers and other stakeholders effectively connect these global instruments and interpretations to national contexts? What is the role of different local, national, regional and international stakeholders in achieving digital inclusion that meets the requirements of users in all communities?
Inclusion, rights and stakeholder roles and responsibilities: What are/should be the responsibilities of governments, businesses, the technical community, civil society, the academic and research sector and community-based actors with regard to digital inclusion and respect for human rights, and what is needed for them to fulfil these in an efficient and effective manner?

Panel - Auditorium - 60 Min


After a year of global consultation, the Oversight Board was created by Facebook because it was no longer acceptable for the company to take consequential and global decisions on content moderation – and ultimately free speech – alone. Now operational, the Board is independent of Facebook and selected its first cases for review in December 2020. Board Members consist of politicians, human rights activists, academics, journalists and lawyers representing a diverse range of global perspectives. The Oversight Board has reviewed cases involving misinformation and Covid-19, adult nudity, conflicts in Myanmar, Armenia and Ethiopia and looked a several cases involving world leaders, including the suspension of former U.S. president Donald Trump’s accounts. All of Board’s case decisions are assessed in accordance with international human rights standards, examining Facebook’s policies providing recommendations to improve the fairness and transparency of its rules and enforcement.

December 2021, marks one year since the Board selected its first cases. In this session, speakers from this first-of-its-kind institution will share their experience of the challenges in moderating content globally and applying global human rights standards, even when cases bear significant relevance in national contexts. The Board will offer its views on how self-regulation, civil society and the wider content moderation community can work together to build a fairer, safer online world for social media users everywhere.

The Oversight Board is supported through the staff on the Oversight Board Administration team, and through the work of the Trustees, all of whom will share learnings during the session. Thomas Hughes, Executive Director of the Oversight Board Administration, Board Member Afia Azare-Kyei, and Trustee Cherine Chalaby will speak about the Board's first year of case decisions including on: 

  •  The evolution of the Board - taking it from conception to practice
  • Decision Making with Impact - how the Board approached challenging issues in the world and how they can be of use to others. 
  • The future of social media governance - ensuring it protects freedom of expression and promotes healthy online communities.

Organized by Tracy Manners, Senior Global Communications and Engagement Manager at the Oversight Board Administration.


Thomas Hughes, Executive Director of the Oversight Board Administration
Afia Azare-Kyei, Board Member, The Oversight Board
Cherine Chalaby, Trustee, The Oversight Board Trust


Onsite Moderator

Tracy Manners

Online Moderator

Tracy Manners


Tracy Manners


4. Quality Education
10. Reduced Inequalities

Targets: Universal access to the internet must come with universal improvements to content moderation to allow users to express their opinions freely and safely. Freedom of Expression online is not currently equal, and the digital rights gap threatens to outpace the internet access gap. The Oversight Board consists of experts from digital rights across the world and after a year of moderating cases, and drawing on examples from their own areas of expertise, they will share insights on what components are required to create the necessary tool-kit to tackle global content moderation and equal digital rights.

Key Takeaways (* deadline 2 hours after session)

Participants and speakers highlighted the importance of sharing the Board’s experience with other social media platforms to better understand differences and commonalities, consider their own oversight bodies, and educate the public.

Call to Action (* deadline 2 hours after session)

There was a strong call for a multi-stakeholder oversight model, not a single overarching structure, for online content governance.