Maina Kiai among 20 members appointed to the Facebook oversight board to moderate content

Kenya’s Maina Kiai is among the three Africans that have been appointed as Board Members to the newly created Oversight Board for Facebook and Instagram Content.

Maina is  a human rights activist and Director of Human Rights Watch’s Global Alliances and Partnerships program.

On Wednesday, Facebook announced the first 20 members from across the globe to the independent body that can overturn the company’s own content moderation decisions. The members  are from diverse groups including lawyers, journalists, human rights advocates and other academics. They are said to have expertise in areas such as digital rights, religious freedom, conflicts between rights, content moderation, internet censorship and civil rights. 

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. 

The 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. According to Facebook, it  will prioritize cases that potentially impact many users, are of critical importance to public discourse, or raise questions about Facebook’s policies.  

 “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. 

Facebook oversight board members

Other members are Afia Asantewaa Asare-Kyei, a human rights advocate at the Open Society Initiative for West Africa, Evelyn Aswad, aUniversity of Oklahoma College of Law professor who formerly served as a senior U.S. State Department lawyer, Endy Bayuni, a journalist who twice served as the editor-in-chief of the Jakarta Post, and Catalina Botero-Marino, the dean of the Universidad de los Andes Faculty of Law. 

Katherine Chen, a communications scholar at the National Chengchi University and former national communications regulator in Taiwan, Nighat Dad, a digital rights advocate who received the Human Rights Tulip Award and Jamal Green, Columbia Law professor were also appointed to the board.

Others are Pamela Karlan, a Stanford Law professor and United States Supreme Court advocate, Tawakkol Karman, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate named as one of “History’s Most Rebellious Women” by Time, Sudhir Krishnaswamy, the vice chancellor of the National Law School of India University, Ronaldo Lemos, a technology, intellectual property and media lawyer who teaches law at Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, Michael McConnell, a Stanford Law professor who previously served as a federal circuit judge, Julie Owono, a digital rights and anti-censorship advocate who leads Internet Sans Frontieres, Emi Palmor, a former director general of the Israeli Ministry of Justice, Alan Rusbridger, a former editor-in-chief of The Guardian, Andras Sajo, a former judge and vice president of the European Court of Human Rights, John Samples, who helps lead a libertarian think tank and writes extensively on social media and speech regulation, Nicolas Suzor, a Queensland University of Technology Law School professor and Helle Thorning-Schmidt, former Prime Minister of Denmark

Over time the Board will grow to around 40 Members.  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.  

Featured Image credits: Nation Media Group

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Nixon Kanali

Tech journalist based in Nairobi. I track and report on tech and African startups. Founder and Editor of TechTrends Media. Nixon is also the East African tech editor for Africa Business Communities. Send tips to

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