GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 07 October 2020 Goals and penalties (Indian Express)

Goals and penalties (Indian Express)

Mains Paper 2: Governance 
Prelims level: Facebook content oversight board
Mains level: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability


  • There’s the company, the Board and now, the Real Board.
  • Facebook Inc, under the scanner for how its flagship platform and other products (Instagram, WhatsApp) have been used to manipulate elections and spread misinformation, set up an Oversight Board in November last year.
  • Its purpose, broadly: To provide more accountability by serving as a sort of final court of appeal over posts which have been flagged by users and removed by the algorithm and/or mediators.
  • The severe limitations of this largely internal mechanism has led a group of civil society activists — including Facebook’s former head of election security — to form “The Real Facebook Oversight Board” to hold the company to account as the US elections take place.

Pecuniary penalties:

  • The Real Board’s role will be to exercise, at best, moral pressure. This pressure is needed. Because, quite simply, Facebook hasn’t done enough.
  • First, the company’s oversight board is little more than a sophisticated form of customer service.
  • Real oversight is almost impossible when those doing the overseeing draw their paychecks from the company they are meant to hold to account.
  • Second, and more importantly, the Facebook Oversight Board will not be functional in time for the US presidential elections.
  • Now, the Real Board is asking Facebook to institute measures against posts inciting violence, ban ads that mention election results before the official announcement, and label posts about the election results before the results as premature.
  • These are reasonable demands. They may also be naive.
  • Quite a few of the members of the Real Board are leaders of the #StopHateForProfit campaign.
  • But in Facebook’s case, it is important to understand that human monitoring of the sheer volume of data produced by users is next to impossible.
  • And the algorithms that keep users hooked, like the profit motive, are amoral.
  • Oversight, external or internal, will only make a real difference if it imposes pecuniarypenalties, not PR ones, and forces a change in the goal of the algorithm itself.


  • The ‘Real Facebook Oversight Board’ is an attempt at putting moral pressure to act against fake news. But it may not work.

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1)With reference to the Swachh Bharat Puraskar, consider the following statements:
1. The Swachh Bharat (2020) Awards were conferred to the best performing States/UTs, districts, blocks, GPs and others in various categories marking six years of the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) launch.
2. The awards were given by Department of Rural Development

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: A

Mains Questions:

Q.1) Discuss the role of social media in influencing political opinions and social attitudes in the country.