From hate speech to nudity, Facebook’s oversight board launches

Platform News: Facebook

Facebook’s independent Oversight Board has announced the first six cases where it might overrule the social networking business’s decisions to remove certain parts of content out of its platforms.

The board, that Facebook created in response to criticism of its handling of problematic content, said it had obtained 20,000 instances since it opened its doors in October.

The six selected cases are as follows:

  1. A screenshot of tweets by former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad that said Muslims had a right to perpetrate violence against French people “for the massacres of the past”
  2. A post with a photograph of a deceased child that contained commentary on China’s treatment of Uighur Muslims
  3. A post that purported to show historical photos of dinosaurs in Baku, Azerbaijan, with a caption which Facebook said indicated “disdain” for Azerbaijani people and support for Armenia
  4. Instagram photos showing female nipples the user in Brazil said aimed to raise awareness of breast cancer symptoms
  5. An alleged quotation from Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels
  6. The one selected case that was submitted by Facebook, rather than an individual, was a post in a group claiming certain drugs could cure COVID-19, which criticized the French government’s reaction to the pandemic
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The board has opened a week-long public comment period on these first cases. The cases will be assessed by panels of five board members.

Three of the six cases involved content that Facebook eliminated for breaking up hate-speech rules. An Oversight Board spokesman stated hate-speech cases had been “the most significant proportion” of appeals obtained.

“It’s not that easy… for an algorithm to get the context of” such speech.

Back in November, Facebook for the first time showed amounts on the prevalence of hate speech on the platform, saying that out of every 10,000 content viewpoints in the next quarter, 10 to 11 contained hate speech.

Greene stated the instances, which also involved content eliminated over rules on adult nudity, dangerous individuals and associations, and violence and incitement, increased “important line-drawing questions.”

Facebook can also ask the board to get nonbinding policy recommendations, but Greene said it had not yet done so.

The board, which was criticized because of its limited remit, also intends to expand its scope to hear cases from users in early 2021 about content that’s been left to the website, as well as posts removed.

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Last week, a group of Facebook critics dubbed “The Real Facebook Oversight Board” said it would hear three cases not eligible for users to take into the official supervision board, including a dispute about the Facebook account of Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump’s former adviser.

Asked about this group, a spokeswoman for Facebook’s Oversight Board said, “Lots of people have opinions about Facebook.

The team at Platform Executive hope you have enjoyed this news article. Initial reporting via our official content partners at Thomson Reuters. Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford in Birmingham, England. Editing by Edmund Blair and Matthew Lewis.

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