Facebook appoints ex Israeli official to oversee content

Emi Palmor

Facebook has appointed Emi Palmor, the former Israeli Justice Ministry director-general, to its Oversight Board which will be tasked with content moderation on Facebook and Instagram.

The move is likely to cause concern among pro-Palestine activists who already feel they are being censored by the social media giant.

Palmor, who is a lecturer in the Israeli Defence Forces, is one of 20 members selected from around the world from a wide range of professional and cultural backgrounds to be appointed to the independent board.

Their recruitment was led by Facebook, with the co-chairs then leading the selection of the rest of the members which include Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Yemeni activist Tawakkol Karman and former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger.

The Oversight Board will review content referred to it both by users and Facebook. All decisions will be posted on the board’s website and Facebook will be required to respond publicly to them.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg with Benjamin Netanyahu

The board will also publish an annual report evaluating its work and the extent to which Facebook is meeting its commitments.

“I have been a civil servant for 24 years in Israel, dedicating my life to increasing access to justice and putting the citizen at the centre,” said Palmor. “For me, serving on the Oversight Board is an opportunity to do this for people around the world. I have a reputation for not being afraid of difficult issues and am dedicated to holding Facebook accountable by improving how content decisions are made and increasing the fairness and transparency around why they are made.”

Facebook has previously confirmed that the board will be funded by a $130 million trust, established by Facebook but which the board says is independent of the social network.

Mr Rusbridger said it had taken too long to create such a system for moderating content, but was pleased such a body was now in place.

“We are living in a world of information chaos and standing on the precipice of darkness,” he said. “Societies can’t function unless their citizens can agree on what constitutes evidence, fact and truth.

“It’s perhaps taken us too long to realise this. The Oversight Board seems to be the first imaginative and bold step by one of the biggest players to find a way of reconciling the need to start imposing some kind of judgment and standards on what is published, while still maintaining the things that are wonderful about social media, and necessary for free speech.”

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