Cybersecurity & Tech

The Facebook Oversight Board Issued Its First Decisions. Here’s How We’re Tracking Them.

Robert Chesney, Evelyn Douek, Quinta Jurecic, Jacob Schulz, Elliot Setzer, Tia Sewell
Thursday, January 28, 2021, 10:44 AM

Announcing Lawfare’s Facebook Oversight Board blog.

A chalkboard wall at Facebook's headquarters in California. (Flickr/Isriya Paireepairit,; CC BY-NC 2.0,

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This morning, Jan. 28, the Facebook Oversight Board—the company’s experiment in independent platform governance—released its first batch of opinions reviewing Facebook’s takedown of a variety of posts.

It’s not exactly comparable to the Supreme Court’s first-ever ruling in West v. Barnes, let alone Marbury v. Madison. The Facebook Oversight Board is not a real court, after all. But this may turn out to be a comparable milestone, given how rapidly actual public squares are ceding ground to virtual ones owned by private social media companies. At any rate, today is the coming out party. And unlike the Supreme Court, the board is coming out swinging, with Facebook losing “on the merits” in most of the cases.

Welcome to the new age of speech regulation, where the government lurks in the background but all the action is in private hands, at least for now. The ride promises to be bumpy, and increasingly consequential. Which is why Lawfare has decided to launch a dedicated feature—a blog within a blog—to help you all stay on top of things: the Facebook Oversight Board Blog, to be known evermore simply as FOB Blog.

Check it out here!

Consider this our soft launch, and a promise of much more to come. You can access the page under our “resource pages” link on the menu bar at the top of the site. On the page, you’ll find all the essentials: timely updates on the pending cases, the FOB rulings, the responses from Facebook (expected within seven days for today’s ruling, by the way), and of course written analysis and the Arbiters of Truth podcast.

It’s a whole new ballgame…

Robert (Bobby) Chesney is the Dean of the University of Texas School of Law, where he also holds the James A. Baker III Chair in the Rule of Law and World Affairs at UT. He is known internationally for his scholarship relating both to cybersecurity and national security. He is a co-founder of Lawfare, the nation’s leading online source for analysis of national security legal issues, and he co-hosts the popular show The National Security Law Podcast.
Evelyn Douek is an Assistant Professor of Law at Stanford Law School and Senior Research Fellow at the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. She holds a doctorate from Harvard Law School on the topic of private and public regulation of online speech. Prior to attending HLS, Evelyn was an Associate (clerk) to the Honourable Chief Justice Susan Kiefel of the High Court of Australia. She received her LL.B. from UNSW Sydney, where she was Executive Editor of the UNSW Law Journal.
Quinta Jurecic is a fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution and a senior editor at Lawfare. She previously served as Lawfare's managing editor and as an editorial writer for the Washington Post.
Jacob Schulz is the former managing editor of Lawfare. He previously served as deputy managing editor and associate editor. He hails from Pennylvania and attended Amherst College.
Elliot Setzer is a Knight-Hennessy Scholar at Stanford Law School and a Ph.D student at Yale University. He previously worked at Lawfare and the Brookings Institution.
Tia Sewell is a former associate editor of Lawfare. She studies international relations and economics at Stanford University.

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