Facebook’s Oversight Board overturns 4 of its decisions

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Facebook’s Oversight Board overturns 4 of its decisions


Announcing its first set of five case decisions, social media giant Facebook’s Oversight Board has overturned four of Facebook’s decisions, upheld one and has issued nine policy recommendations to the company.

The board said in one case, board members looked at whether, in case of an armed conflict, Facebook was right to remove an otherwise permissible post because it contained a hateful slur.

In another matter, members examined if a post accused of spreading Covid-19 misinformation contributed to imminent harm.

The board said in several cases, its members questioned whether Facebook’s rules were clear enough for users to understand.

The cases covered matters in Asia, Europe, North America and South America and Helle Thorning-Schmidt, former prime minister of Denmark and co-chair of the Oversight Board called it an important milestone.

“Each case has been deliberated by a five-member panel including one member from the region and the decision is binding on Facebook. This is the first time Facebook has been overruled on its content decisions,” she added.

Speaking to ET, board member Sudhir Krishnaswamy, vice-chancellor of the National Law School of India University said the decisions cover a ‘wide’ range of issues. “When you look at the ocean of content that makes up social media, five cases doesn’t seem like much. But, this is significant and a novel model of regulation,” he said

“This is the first time Facebook and Instagram are being told by any authority that a decision that they have made is wrong. The ripple effect of these cases will change the enforcement engine that Facebook and Instagram have set up. If our decisions are complied with as we fully expect they would be, this is a huge change,” Krishnaswamy added.

The board overturned Facebook’s decision on a case concerning the removal of a post under its community standard on hate speech. The post commented on the supposed lack of reaction to the treatment of Uyghur Muslims in China, compared to the violent reaction to cartoons in France. It upheld Facebook’s decision on the case involving the removal of a post under its community standard on hate speech. The post used the Russian word “taziks” to describe Azerbaijanis, who the user claimed to have no history compared to Armenians.

The board overturned Facebook’s original decision to remove a post under its community Standard on adult nudity and sexual activity which was to do with breast cancer symptoms. In another decision, it overturned Facebook’s decision to remove a post under its community standard on dangerous individuals and organizations which included an alleged quote from Joseph Goebbels, the Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany.

It also overturned Facebook’s decision to remove a post under its community standard on violence and incitement. The post criticized the lack of a health strategy in France and included claims that a cure for Covid-19 exists. Considering this matter, the board also recommended that the company should create a new community standard on health misinformation as it found its misinformation and imminent harm rule to be ‘inappropriately vague.’

Facebook now has seven days to restore the content in line with the board’s decisions. The board also said in the coming days, it expects to publish a case related to India and a post removed under Facebook’s violence and incitement community standard.

It will also be opening public comments on the matter accepted by the board last week relating to former US President Donald Trump’s indefinite suspension from Facebook and Instagram.





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