Facebook’s Oversight board has announced that they are now accepting appeals from both Instagram and Facebook users who feel that their content has been wrongly taken down.
Posts which are reported or found to breach Facebook’s content moderation guidelines are normally taken down without consultation. However, users on the platforms can now submit their appeals on content removals to the Oversight board.
Facebook will also be able to consult with the board on whether content should remain up or be taken down. The board’s decision will be independent and final for both users and the social media platforms.
Users will also be able to petition the board on content they want removed from Facebook and Instagram.
The oversight board is a global body consisting of members from around the world. The members have backgrounds in free expression, digital rights, online safety and other related fields. Their job entails making decisions on what content should be allowed or removed from the platforms.
The Oversight Board consists of 20 members, including Kenya Human Rights Advocate, Maina Kiai. Collectively, they have lived in more than 27 countries and speak more than 29 languages among them.
“The Board is eager to get to work,” said Catalina Botero-Marino, Co-Chair of the Oversight Board. “We won’t be able to hear every appeal, but want our decisions to have the widest possible value, and will be prioritizing cases that have the potential to impact many users around the world, are of critical importance to public discourse, and raise questions about Facebook’s policies.”
Users will first be required to appeal their cases directly to Facebook and escalate to the Oversight Board Website once they have exhausted the option. Facebook can also refer an ongoing case to the Board including in emergency circumstances under the Expedited Review procedure.
“Content that could lead to urgent, real-world consequences will be reviewed as quickly as possible,” said Jamal Greene, Co-Chair of the Oversight Board. “The Board provides a critical independent check on Facebook’s approach to moderating content on the most significant issues, but doesn’t remove the responsibility of Facebook to act first and to act fast in emergencies.”
Decisions on appeals cannot be arrived at by a single member of the board. Cases will be assigned to a minimum of five members of the board with one member from the region where the case originates from.
The board will refer to Facebook’s community standards and values as well as International Human Rights Standards in determining cases. The board will also be able to recommend changes to Facebook’s community standards where need be.
Cases will also have a period during which the public can comment, to allow third parties share their thoughts with the board. This will be done by the board posting the case descriptions on their website with a request for comments before they start deliberating. The descriptions will protect the identities of the users or parties involved.
“Human rights and freedom of expression will be at the core of every decision we make,” said Botero-Marino. “These cases will have far-reaching, real world consequences. It is our job to ensure we are serving users and holding Facebook accountable.”
The decisions arrived at by the board must be implemented by Facebook, so long as they are within the law. Oversight members are independent of the social media giant, funded by an independent trust, and cannot be removed by Facebook based on the decisions they make
The board will work with a timeline of 90 days to reach a decision and allow Facebook to take action.