In This Review

Content Moderation and Self-Regulation Mechanisms: The Facebook Oversight Board and Its Implications for Latin America
Content Moderation and Self-Regulation Mechanisms: The Facebook Oversight Board and Its Implications for Latin America
By Edison Lanza and Matías Jackson
Inter-American Dialogue, 2021, 31 pp
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Facebook (now rebranded as Meta Platforms) is at the center of complex debates over industry concentration, data privacy, disinformation, and hate speech. In response, Facebook has put in place an independent review mechanism for its content moderation decisions, a body known as the Oversight Board. Lanza and Jackson report that in many of its initial opinions, the board felt Facebook was overzealous in deleting posts and recommended restoring many of them. The authors also usefully review three decisions involving Latin America: two from Brazil and one from Colombia that had to do with nudity, measures to contain COVID-19, and insults of political leaders. Lanza and Jackson prioritize freedom of expression; they denounce Internet censorship by overtly authoritarian regimes (such as those in Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela) and express alarm at pending intrusive legislation elsewhere in Latin America judged to potentially violate due process. The authors urge the board to pay more attention to Latin American legal codes and civil society experts. Missing from this legalistic note is a sense of political urgency: that societies confront tough tradeoffs between free speech and social harm and that if not better moderated, by some combination of public and private regulations, social media may threaten democracy itself.