Business Corporate Governance structures are being challenged: can advisory boards...

Corporate Governance structures are being challenged: can advisory boards offer a solution?


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Akash Pugalia is the Global President of Trust & Safety at Teleperformance and an expert in space.

Internet governance is evolving rapidly, especially in the field of social media. Due to the growing scrutiny and increased complexity of moderating platforms, external oversight and advice will be critical to the future of content moderation.

In early 2022, Spotify faced controversy when a top podcaster, Joe Rogan, spreading disinformation about Covid-19 on his performance. After backlash from employees, customers and musicians, the brand established a Security Advisory Board to help it make better decisions about moderating content and developing its policies and products safely, while ensuring respect for the creator’s views.

Spotify isn’t alone. Facebook formed one Supervisory Committee in 2019and TikTok has its advisory board in 2020. In contrast, Twitter recently dropped its council and received backlash.

While most of the content users share online is benign, there is still an increase in hate speech, disinformation, and other inappropriate content. Today’s businesses have a huge interest in protecting their online assets and customers.

As more users access the internet, moderation becomes a crucial part, but moderation alone is not enough. Engaging advisory boards and councils to advise on moderation decisions is critical.

Challenges in the corporate governance structure

Everything moves faster in the digital world. Innovations that once took years now happen in a matter of weeks. Today’s social media platforms can Reach 1 billion users three years faster than social media sites of recent decades.

As new technology opens doors, it also brings threats and risks. Therefore, a better governance structure based on multi-stakeholder input is needed to enable responsible innovation (e.g. safety by design) and more robust fail-safe measures.

As technology environments become increasingly complex, decentralized and anonymous, current governance structures must be equipped to handle the number and complexity of online threats and risks.

Here are some of the current challenges facing governance structures:

• Dish: With a huge and disparate user base, companies struggle to effectively govern at scale.

• Speed: There are no safeguards to monitor risk or they cannot keep up with the rapid creation and rollout of new features/content.

• Decentralization: Governance is spread across multiple parts of the organization (particularly for social media – brand safety versus integrity/politeness versus responsible innovation versus trust and safety policy enforcement), meaning that significant risks may go undetected for extended periods of time.

• Lack of Liability: With internet regulations outdated or ineffective in many parts of the world, digital service providers lack accountability.

Social media platforms face a polarizing internal conflict: they act as custodians of the internet while at the same time being the center of self-expression and user-generated content. Content moderation efforts eat up significant resources. Facebook has committed to allocate 5% of the company’s turnover$3.7 billion.

Content moderation advisory boards are critical

Mitigation decisions are becoming increasingly complex and contentious, requiring knowledge of all aspects of human rights. Since these issues require input from the public and private sectors, moderation boards/oversight boards are a popular way to arrive at a multi-stakeholder solution for the most challenging and contentious decisions.

When it comes to online rights, trade-offs between privacy, free speech, security and safety are some of the most difficult to tackle. Companies are often not best equipped to make these decisions and therefore lack the credibility to make them independently.

Independent moderation boards help establish credibility based on members’ expertise.

They can also help the company be more proactive and mitigate potential risks. For the most part, consumers approve of independent moderation boards. According to recent researchmore than 8 in 10 Americans think a content oversight board is a “good or very good idea.”

However, many are skeptical about the need for company-selected supervisory boards and councils. Nevertheless, depending on how they are selected and how much input they have in moderation decisions, these councils can effectively steer toward a more proactive and restorative approach to user safety.

Establish a credible advisory board

Selecting members for the Advisory Board is a major decision. Members should have different thoughts and lived experiences, come from different cultures or countries, and represent the users of the brand’s products or services. Finding members outside of the company’s core competencies can add to diversity.

Supervisory members must understand the need for trade-offs and compromises. While members have a solid position in one area, they should remain open to developing their personal views based on new research and evidence.

For those looking to set up an advisory board, there are several important considerations:

• Geographical diversity.

• Representation of both the public and private sectors.

• Inclusion of civil society and academia, with expertise in protecting the human rights of different groups (e.g. children, disadvantaged communities, etc.) and/or with expertise in understanding different areas of harm (e.g. hate speech) ).

• Memberships of other relevant boards (of other companies or industry consortia).

• Thought leadership, through academic publications or editorials in leading media.

• Highly regarded work or research experience in the areas of Internet law and policy, online safety, privacy, security, free speech and other human rights.

In compiling the board of trustees, a popular social media website selected experts and societal leaders from a “variety of cultural and professional backgrounds, reflecting the diversity of the community itself.”

Not all boards of trustees or councils are created equal. Since the risks are high from a legal, brand and user perspective, boards of directors need to define risk thresholds for operating in certain regions, content categories, etc. and ensure they are adhered to across the company. For example, the remit of Facebook’s board of trustees is vastly different from the remit of TikTok’s board of directors.

The future of content advisory boards

Internet governance is evolving rapidly, especially in social media. However, as decision platforms and companies gain greater oversight and significance, external oversight and advice will be critical to the credibility and future of content moderation.

When formulated with the right people, independent content moderation advisory boards can effectively steer the company toward a more proactive and restorative approach to online safety. Business Council is the leading growth and networking organization for entrepreneurs and leaders. Am I eligible?

Shreya Christina
Shreya has been with for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider team, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.


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