Giulia Alves Maia
The Facebook / Meta Oversight Board (OB) is one of the most novel developments in law and governance in recent years. The Oversight Board has ignited a major debate about its character, form, operation, and effects. It has been modelled as a “Facebook Supreme Court”, and its structure and style of its reasoning, as well as its use of precedent, give the appearance that the OB operates in a similar way to a court. On 26 April 2023, City Law School hosted a hybrid event entitled The Facebook/Meta Oversight Board: International and Regional Law Applications to discussion these and other issues.
Referred to by some as Facebook’s “supreme court”, the oversight board tasked with reversing or upholding Facebook’s content moderation decisions has ruled that the social media company’s ban of Donald Trump should be maintained.
The board upheld Facebook’s January 7 decision to ban then-President Trump from posting content on Facebook and Instagram, after his social media activity was partially blamed for inciting the violence at the January 6 Capitol riots, during which five people died. However, the board noted that indefinite suspensions were not described in Facebook’s content policies – and so the ban will be reviewed again in six months.
A lot has been said about Facebook being an incumbent digital platform threatening competition on the markets (and arguably much more remains to be said). However, the ‘law of Facebook’ incorporates different dimensions ‒ e.g., public, international, transnational, European, comparative ‒ that are at least as important as competition law and policy. It is with this premise in mind that the Jean Monnet Chair in Law & Transatlantic Relations, City Law School and the Institute for the Study of European Law (ISEL) at City Law School hosted a webinar to shed light on these further dimensions of the law of Facebook and discuss whether it can function as a blueprint to understand legal issues ‒ and engineer possible solutions ‒ concerning the law of big techs in general. Let’s delve into the central matters discussed by the panellists concerning the multidimensional law of Facebook.