Facebook reverses some decisions on removed posts

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Facebook reversed several decisions regarding content removal after the company’s independent oversight body released its first verdicts on Thursday.

Facebook’s 20-member Oversight Board said it overturned four of the five decisions about content removal, giving the social media giant seven days to restore the content in line with the board’s decision.

A spokesperson for Facebook confirmed Thursday morning that the company has restored all content relating to the four cases. The company had already restored one of the posts last year, finding it did not violate its policies and was removed in error.

The board’s first decisions come as it weighs one of its most consequential cases — whether to keep former President Trump’s page banned permanently. Facebook said last week the Oversight Board would issue a decision in the next 90 days on whether to uphold or reverse the ban, and the company would extend the ban until a decision is announced.

The decisions announced Thursday covered cases across Asia, Europe, North America and South America, and spanned Facebook’s policies over hate speech, misinformation and nudity. 

Two of the cases regarded Facebook’s hate speech policies; one was upheld and one was overturned.

The board also overturned Facebook’s decision to remove a post on Instagram from a user in Brazil that raised breast cancer awareness due to the company’s nudity policy. The board found that the post was allowed under a policy exception for breast cancer awareness. The content in the post was restored in 2020 after Facebook found it was removed in error.

The one case the board upheld regarded the removal of a post that used a “demeaning slur.” The board said that “the context in which the term was used makes clear it was meant to dehumanize its target.”

Another overturned case regarded Facebook’s decision to remove a post that quoted Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels. The post had no pictures of Goebbels or Nazi symbols and the user told the board the intent was to draw a comparison between the sentiment in the quote and the Trump presidency. 

The board said the quote did not support the Nazi party’s ideology or the regime’s acts of hate and violence, and said the rules about Facebook’s community standard of dangerous individuals was not made “sufficiently clear to users.”  

The last case the board overturned involved Facebook’s policy on health misinformation. The removed post in a French Facebook group related to COVID-19 falsely claimed there was a cure for the virus and criticized the lack of health strategy in France. The board found that the user in the post was “opposing a government policy and aimed to change that policy” and said that Facebook had not demonstrated that the post would “rise to the level of imminent harm.” 

The board also said Facebook’s misinformation and imminent harm rule was “inappropriately vague” and recommended the company create a new community standard on health misinformation.

–Updated at 12:07 p.m.

Tags content moderation Donald Trump Facebook Facebook oversight board misinformation Oversight Board

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