A Love Triangle? Mapping Interactions between International Human Rights Institutions, Meta and Its Oversight Board

Tiedeke, Anna Sophia; Fertmann, Martin
European Journal of International Law

Three years ago, the Oversight Board commenced its work ‘to make principled, independent, and binding decisions … based on respect for freedom of expression and human rights’ for Meta’s platforms Facebook and Instagram. From the very beginning, the vocabulary employed to talk about the Oversight Board was laden with court metaphors. Wary that these metaphors have stirred legal analysis into a specific direction, we move away from trying to fit the Oversight Board within established institutional categories. Instead, we shift the focus from institutions to interactions – that is, to the ‘in-between’. Rather than continuing to debate what the Oversight Board is, we focus on what the Oversight Board does. Our study maps different stages and modes of interaction between Meta, the Oversight Board and international human rights institutions. We show how different actors carefully craft entry points for constructing their respective semantic authority and what kind of strategies they pursue to contest semantic authority of others. Thereby, we uncover the first traces of emerging conversations between Meta, the Oversight Board and international human rights institutions and highlight who is included and excluded and who refuses to participate or to respond. With our intervention, we intend to offer empirically grounded insights into the dynamics at play and paint a more detailed picture of the various roles that novel actors, such as Meta and the Oversight Board, are beginning to assume in the protection of international human rights online.