With more than 2 billion online users, Facebook has a major content moderation problem on its pointers. Whether you’re talking about the platform’s use by Russian government-backed fiends in the 2016 US Presidential election, or to blowout hoopla during the 2016 Rohingya massacre, or when a shooter live-streamed a mass shooting in New Zealand, Facebook has faced moderation concern after moderation issue across the past few years. Facebook Supreme Oversight Board like a Supreme Court is envisioned to build a new way for users to appeal content decisions on both Facebook and Instagram, given former criticism over how the company knobs hate speech, fierce extremism, and graphic content. The 20-person board includes a former prime minister, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and the former editor-in-chief of The Guardian. Facebook says Facebook Supreme Oversight Board decisions are final and binding.
Board issued its first decisions in January, saying Facebook had made the wrong call on four removed posts. In the coming months, it will make its highest-profile decision to date: whether Facebook should restore the account of former president Donald Trump. But as Klonick lays out, its actual power is complex and contested.
The Facebook Supreme Oversight Board, which has been called Facebook (FB)’s version of a Supreme Court, announced Thursday that it overturned Facebook’s decisions in four out of the five cases before it. The cases touched on issues of hate speech, nudity, and Covid misinformation.
All five cases convoluted Facebook taking down posts for breaking its rules. In one case, Facebook removed a post from a Myanmar user who shared two photos of a Syrian toddler of Kurdish ethnicity who drowned attempting to reach Europe in 2015. The text accompanying the photo, according to the board’s description, said there was “something wrong with Muslims psychologically or with their mindset.”
Facebook removed the post due to its hate speech policies. “The Board found that, while the post might be considered pejorative or offensive towards Muslims, it did not advocate hatred or intentionally incite any form of imminent harm. As such, the Board does not consider its removal to be necessary to protect the rights of others,” the board posted on its website explaining the decision.
Another case centered on nudity. The Facebook Supreme Oversight Board reversed Facebook’s removal of an Instagram post from a Brazilian user that was meant to raise awareness about breast cancer. “The post included five photographs that showed women’s nipples, which the board declared permissible in light of Facebook’s own policy exception for ‘breast cancer awareness,'” the board said.
The first series of decisions come ahead of the most closely watched case yet for the board: whether former President Donald Trump gets to stay on Facebook.
Facebook and its subsidiary Instagram banned the ex-president’s account from posting for at least the residue of his term and potentially “indefinitely” after a mob of his supporters captured the US Capitol to protest the election results.