Facebook says it's creating an independent body to help it decide which content to remove

  • The comments came one day after a bombshell report by the New York Times that outlined Facebook’s efforts to avoid and deflected blame in the public conversation around its handling of Russian interference and other misuses of its social network.
  • Facebook will start to pilot this independent body in the first half of 2019 with hopes of establishing it in full by the end of the year.
  • The company said it does not yet know how members of the body will be selected as well as other key details.
Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill April 11, 2018.
Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images
Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill April 11, 2018.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday said the company will establish an independent body to oversee user appeals of content removal, one day after a bombshell report that detailed how the company avoided and deflected blame in the public conversation around its handling of Russian interference and other misuses of its social network.

The move could help Facebook avoid accusations of bias as it removes material deemed problematic, like fake news and hate speech. Some conservative groups and lawmakers have accused Facebook and other social media outlets of censoring politically conservative points of view, a charge that Facebook denies.

"I have come to believe that we shouldn't be making so many important decisions on free expression and safety on our own," Zuckerberg said on a call Thursday.

The independent body will make its decisions in a transparent and binding manner, Zuckerberg said in a post. The company will begin piloting the new body in early 2019 with the hope of establishing it in full by the end of next year.

This body "will prevent the concentration of too much decision-making within our teams," Zuckerberg said in his post.

Facebook does not yet know how members of the body will be selected or how it will ensure the body's independence. "There's still a number of important questions to work through here," Zuckerberg said on the call.

Zuckerberg's comments come one day after a report by the New York Times that detailed how COO Sheryl Sandberg and other Facebook execs tried to downplay and spin bad news. Among other things, Facebook worked with Definers Public Affairs, a Washington-based public relations firm, which reportedly wrote dozens of articles criticizing the business practices of rivals Apple and Google while downplaying concerns about Facebook's own problems.

Facebook ended its relationship with Definers Public Affairs on Wednesday night, the company announced on Thursday.

The company on Thursday also released its latest report outlining its effort to remove harmful content, such as fake accounts, hate speech and graphic violence, from its social network.