Facebook Oversight Board overturns 4 cases in first ruling

San Francisco: The independent Oversight Board on Thursday announced to overturn four of Facebooks decisions to remove posts for violating policies on hate speech, violence and other issues.

Facebook said that it will abide by the decisions, the first by the Oversight Board, and has already restored the content in three of the cases.

“We restored the breast cancer awareness post last year, as it did not violate our policies and was removed in error,” Monika Bickert, Vice President, Content Policy at Facebook, said in a statement.

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The Oversight Board, a group of 20 journalists, politicians and judges from around the world, was formed last year.

“In the five case decisions published today, the Board overturned four of Facebook’s decisions, upheld one and issued nine policy recommendations to the company,” the board said in a separate statement.

After careful deliberation, the board overturned Facebook’s decision to remove 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 overturned Facebook’s original decision to remove a post under its Community Standard on Adult Nudity and Sexual Activity.

“The post included photos of breast cancer symptoms which, in some cases, showed uncovered female nipples,” the board said in its decision.

It also overturned Facebook’s decision to remove a post under its Community Standard on Dangerous Individuals and Organizations.

The post included an alleged quote from Joseph Goebbels, the Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany.

The board also overturned Facebook’s decision to remove a post under its Community Standard on Violence and Incitement.

The post criticised the lack of a health strategy in France and included claims that a cure for COVID-19 exists.

“Since we started accepting cases in October 2020, more than 150,000 cases have been appealed to the Board. As we cannot hear every appeal, we are prioritising cases that have the potential to affect lots of users around the world,” it added.

“Today’s decisions are binding on Facebook and we will hold the company accountable for implementing them”.

“In addition, Facebook must publicly respond to any policy recommendations the Board has made in its decisions within 30 days,” the board mentioned.

Reacting to the board decisions, Facebook admitted that some of today’s recommendations include suggestions for major operational and product changes to its content moderation.

Bickert said that the board rightfully raises concerns that we can be more transparent about our COVID-19 misinformation policies.

“We do believe, however, that it is critical for everyone to have access to accurate information, and our current approach in removing misinformation is based on extensive consultation with leading scientists, including from the CDC and WHO. During a global pandemic this approach will not change,” she noted.

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