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<xTITLE>Arbitrating De-platforming Disputes</xTITLE>

Arbitrating De-platforming Disputes

by Amy Schmitz
February 2021 Amy Schmitz

As most have heard by now, there is great interest and debate regarding the Facebook Oversight Board and its power to decide users’ complaints that they have been improperly de-platformed (or kicked off a platform) for violating platform rules. In fact, some have questioned whether the Facebook process is “arbitration” – or some other “animal.”

Essentially, the Oversight Board currently has 20 members, including former judges and current lawyers, as well as professors and journalists. It also includes a former prime minister and a Nobel Peace Prize winner. Board members serve a three-year term, and five-member panels decide cases based on facts presented -- as well as considerations of free speech. It appears that the board’s decisions are final and Facebook will abide by the decisions. For further information, see https://oversightboard.com/.

It should also be noted that the idea of using arbitration to decide content disputes is not entirely new. For example, Wikipedia uses an “arbitration committee” for resolving disputes regarding its content. The arbitration committee considers requests to open new cases and review previous decisions. The entire process is governed by the arbitration policy. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Arbitration/Policy.

The policy states in part:

“The Arbitration Committee of the English Wikipedia has the following duties and responsibilities:

  1. To act as a final binding decision-maker primarily for serious conduct disputes the community has been unable to resolve;
  2. To hear appeals from blocked, banned, or otherwise restricted users;[note 1]
  3. To handle requests (other than self-requests) for removal of administrative tools;[note 2]
  4. To resolve matters unsuitable for public discussion for privacy, legal, or similar reasons;
  5. To approve and remove access to (i) CheckUser and Oversight tools and (ii) mailing lists maintained by the Arbitration Committee.”

The Policy goes on to provide quite elaborate procedures and policies and is transparent in showing the open disputes, as well as those recently closed. Those interested in examining the process, especially as they follow the news regarding the Facebook Oversight Board, should go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Arbitration/Policy. Interesting stuff!

 

 

 

Biography


Amy Schmitz is the John Deaver Drinko-Baker & Hostetler Chair in Law at the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. From 2016-2021 Professor Schmitz was the Elwood L. Thomas Missouri Endowed Professor of Law at the University of Missouri School of Law and the Center for Dispute Resolution. Previously she was a Professor at the University of Colorado School of Law for over 16 years. Prior to teaching, Professor Schmitz practiced law with large law firms in Seattle and Minneapolis, and served as a law clerk for the U. S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit.  Professor Schmitz teaches courses in Contracts, Lawyering, Online Dispute Resolution (ODR), AI, Data Analytics and the Law, Arbitration, International Arbitration, and Consumer Law. She has been heavily involved in ODR teaching and research for a long time and is a Fellow of the National Center for Technology and Dispute Resolution, as well as the Co-Chair of the ABA Technology Committee of the Dispute Resolution Section and the ODR Task Force.  She serves on the Association of American Law Schools Executive Committee on Commercial and Consumer Law, was an External Scientific Fellow of the Max Planck Institute Luxembourg, and is a researcher with the ACT Project exploring AI and ODR. Professor Schmitz also hosts The Arbitration Conversation, a highly regarded podcast that has reached over 100 episodes. She has published over 60 articles in law journals and books, is a co-author of the leading casebook, Resolving Disputes: Theory, Practice and Law (Aspen/Wolters Kluwer 2021), the new book with Stipanowich, Arbitration: Theory, Practice and Law (Forthcoming Aspen/Wolters Kluwer 2022) and a book with C. Rule, The New Handshake: Online Dispute Resolution and the Future of Consumer Protection.



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