Facebook oversight panel picks first six cases of removed content for review

Facebook oversight panel picks first six cases of removed content for review
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Facebook’s independent Oversight Board has announced the first six cases of removed content it will review.

Facebook said Tuesday that more than 20,000 cases were referred to the oversight panel after user appeals were launched in October, and the company is prioritizing cases that have “the potential to affect lots of users” globally. 

The chosen cases address a range of appeals for removed content, including posts the platform took down for allegedly violating hate speech, nudity and violence rules. 

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Three of the chosen cases revolve around posts taken down for violating Facebook’s hate speech policy, all of which were referred by users. 

Another post referred by a user, which was aimed at raising awareness of breast cancer signs, was removed for violating Facebook's adult nudity and sexual activity policy. The post included photographs showing breast cancer symptoms with the corresponding explanations of the symptoms underneath. Five of the photographs included “visible and uncovered nipples,” according to Facebook. 

Just one of the cases the oversight panel will review was referred by Facebook itself rather than a user. The post was in a Facebook group and claimed certain drugs could cure COVID-19 while criticizing the French government's response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The post was removed for violating Facebook's violence and incitement policy. In its referral to the oversight board, Facebook indicated the case presents an example of the challenges faced when addressing the risk of offline harm that can be caused by COVID-19 misinformation. 

After cases are selected they will be referred to a five-member panel. The decision will also be guided by public comment. The public comment window is open for seven days after a case is announced. 

The board is expected to decide on a case and have Facebook act on the decision within a maximum of 90 days. 

Facebook has faced mounting criticism from both sides of the aisle over the company’s handling of misinformation on its platform. 

Republicans have accused the tech giant of an anti-conservative bias and censorship, while Democrats have stated the company has not gone for enough in clamping down on misinformation and hate speech.