Social Media

Facebook's Oversight Board issued 18 recommendations in 6 cases in Q1 this year

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on July 17, 2021

The board’s recommendations touch on transparency reporting

Facebook has published the first quarterly update for its Oversight Board, covering Q1 2021.

The update provides information about cases that Facebook has referred to the board. It also includes an update on the social media major's progress in implementing the board’s recommendations.

In the first quarter of 2021, the board issued 18 recommendations in six cases. Of this, the tech giant is implementing fully or in part 14 recommendations, still assessing the feasibility of implementing three, and taking no action on one.

"In addition to providing users with direct access to appeal content decisions to the board, we regularly and proactively identify some of the most significant and difficult content decisions we’ve made on our platform and ask the board to review them," Facebook said in a blog post.

"We refer cases involving issues that are severe, large-scale, and/or important for public discourse. Additionally, we look for content decisions that raise questions about current policies or their enforcement, with strong arguments on both sides for either removing or leaving up the content under review," it said.

Contents referred

From November 2020 through March 31, 2021, the company referred 26 content decisions to the board, and the board selected three. The first case was about supposed Covid-19 cures. The case was regarding a post in a group claiming hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin is a cure for the infection and criticizing the French government’s response to the pandemic.

The second was a case about a veiled threat based on religious beliefs. On December 3, 2020, the Oversight Board selected a case referred by Facebook regarding a post in a group that appears to exist for Muslims in India.

"The post contains a statement about a sword being taken from its scabbard if people speak against the prophet. The post also references President Emmanuel Macron of France," as per the description provided by Facebook.

The third case selected by the Board was related to the ban on Former United States President Donald Trump on Facebook and Instagram. Facebook had taken action against Trump’s account after the US Capitol Hill riots in January The Board had taken the case related to the decision to indefinitely suspend former US President Donald Trump’s account.

FB policy

Overall, the social media major said that the size and scope of the board’s recommendations go beyond the policy guidance that it had first anticipated when it set up the individual review committee. Several of these recommendations require multi-month or multi-year investments.

"The board’s recommendations touch on how we enforce our policies, how we inform users of actions we’ve taken and what they can do about it, and additional transparency reporting," it said

For instance, last quarter, in response to the board’s recommendations, the platform launched and continued to test new user experiences that are more specific about why it removes content.

"We’ve made progress on the specificity of our hate speech notifications by using an additional classifier that is able to predict what kind of hate speech is in the content: violence, dehumanisation, mocking hate crimes, visual comparison, inferiority, contempt, cursing, exclusion, and/or slurs," it said.

People using Facebook in English now receive more specific messaging when they violate the platform's hate speech policy.

It will further roll out more specific notifications for hate speech violations to other languages in the future.

"As a result of the board’s recommendations, we’re running tests to assess the impact of telling people about whether automation was involved in enforcement. Additionally, we’ve updated our Dangerous Organizations and Individual policy, creating three tiers of content enforcement for different designations of severity and adding definitions of key terms," it added.

Published on July 17, 2021

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