By Natalie DeCoste
The invention of social media has brought on many changes to how Americans communicate with friends and get the news. Social media has also impacted the way elections in America play out, leading one company to consider taking proactive steps for election oversight.
New reports have revealed that social media giant Facebook is considering creating a commission that would weigh in on global election-related issues on the platform. According to the New York Times, Facebook has begun approaching academics and policy experts about serving on the new commission.
According to the New York Times, the proposed commission would weigh in on matters such as the viability of political ads and what to do about election-related misinformation on the site.
Reports suggest that the commission will be announced this fall ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.
Creating an election commission would allow Facebook to shift some of the decision-making surrounding the election to an advisory board and away from the company. This approach is similar to the creation of Facebook’s independent Oversight Board, which handled the review of President Donald Trump’s suspension from Facebook following the 2020 Capitol riot.
In the case of President Trump’s suspension, the Oversight Board determined that two posts by President Trump severely violated Facebook’s Community Standards and Instagram’s Community Guidelines. Specifically, Facebook’s rules prohibiting the praise or support of people engaged in violence. While President Trump’s suspension was upheld, the Oversight Board also found that it was not appropriate for Facebook to impose an indefinite suspension on individuals and asked Facebook to re-examine the penalty.
Creating an election commission would allow Facebook to have an independent entity, like the Oversight Board, to supervise its decisions.
Facebook likely hopes that by creating an independent advisory board to oversee and review election decisions, the arrangement will reduce the perception that Facebook’s decisions about content on its site are politically biased. Political bias has been a common criticism of the company and its decisions over the last few years, alongside criticism that the platform helps foster the spread of misinformation.
Facebook has declined to comment on the existence or potential creation of an election commission.