An independent board set up by Facebook to look into hate speech and other undesirable content on the platform on Tuesday said it will begin accepting cases from Facebook and Instagram users who believe the company wrongfully allowed harmful content to remain on its platforms.
The content eligible for review includes posts, status updates, photos, videos, comments, and shares.
Facebook, which has faced flak in many parts of the world over various issues, including data breaches and handling of hate speech, had set up the Oversight Board last year, with an initial strength of 20 members. Decisions made through the Board’s independent judgment are binding on Facebook.
The Oversight Board in January made 17 recommendations, based on the six cases, for Facebook to improve its content moderation.
“Enabling users to appeal content they want to see removed from Facebook is a significant expansion of the Oversight Board`s capabilities,” said Thomas Hughes, Director of the Oversight Board Administration.
The board includes former judges, journalists and human rights activists, who review appeals from users on material that has been taken down from Facebook and Instagram, and make binding content decisions for the social networking platforms.
Starting today with an expanding roll out over the coming weeks, after an individual has exhausted Facebook’s appeals process, they will receive an Oversight Board Reference ID and can formally appeal for independent review.
“As content will be live on Facebook and Instagram, many people may report the same piece of content. In these cases, multiple user appeals will be gathered into a single case file for the Board, providing greater context of the impact of the content,” the Oversight Board explained.
As with appeals on content that users want restored to Facebook, users may appeal to the Oversight Board once they have exhausted the appeals process with the company.
“The Board was created to ensure that fewer decisions about highly significant content issues be taken by Facebook alone, and that better decisions can be delivered through an independent and transparent process that works to safeguard human rights and freedom of expression,” Hughes said in a statement.
Since October 2020, users have been able to appeal to the Oversight Board about their own content being removed. So far, the Board has received over 300,000 user appeals and thousands of public comments.
The Oversight Board’s most recent decision was issued to Facebook on Tuesday, on a case from the Netherlands, where the company removed a video showing a young child meeting adults with their faces painted black, dressed to portray “Zwarte Piet” – also referred to as “Black Pete.”
The Oversight Board upheld Facebook`s decision after a majority found sufficient evidence of harm to justify the removal.
(With agency inputs)