Maina Kiai, a human rights activist and Director of Human Rights Watch’s Global Alliances and Partnerships program from Kenya was today appointed as a Board Member to the newly created Oversight Board for Facebook and Instagram Content.
The Oversight Board will review certain content decisions by Facebook and Instagram and make binding decisions based on respect for freedom of expression and human rights.
According to the announcement, the Oversight Board will tackle increasingly complex and contentious debates about what types of content should and should not be permitted on Facebook and Instagram and who should decide. The Board will prioritize cases that potentially impact many users, are of critical importance to public discourse, or raise questions about Facebook’s policies. Decisions made by the Board must be implemented by Facebook, as long as they do not violate the law. Oversight Board Members are independent from the company, funded by an independent trust and cannot be removed by Facebook based on their decisions.
“We have been talking for a long time about creating some kind of independent governance structure for making big companies more accountable on some of the most important decisions they make,” said Maina Kiai. State regulation is important, and I think we need to make progress there too, but I think the Board is an exciting experiment and I’m excited to be part of it,” Kiai added.
Maina will work in collaboration with 19 other Members who speak over 27 languages and have diverse professional, cultural, political, and religious backgrounds and viewpoints. Over time the Board will grow to around 40 Members. While no one can claim to represent everyone, Members are confident that the global composition will underpin, strengthen and guide decision-making.
More from his profile shows Maina Kiai as the former United Nations Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Assembly and Association and current Director of the Global Alliances and Partnerships at Human Rights Watch. Previously, he was a founding co-director at InformAction, a Kenyan human rights NGO that advanced human rights through documentary film and community-based debate and mobilizing.
He also served as the founding executive chair of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, an independent state body, and as the founding executive director of the Kenya Human Rights Commission, Kenya’s leading human rights NGO. Throughout his career, Kiai has served in leadership roles in prominent national and international human rights organizations, received many fellowships and published widely. He is the recipient of the George Kirkland Human Rights Award from AFL-CIO, the Freedom Award from Freedom House, the Leo Navas Award from UN Foundation of USA and the Public Servant Award from the Gay and Lesbians Coalition of Kenya, among other honors.
You can read more about the functions of the newly appointed board here