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The Facebook Oversight Board will review six cases in its first round of deliberations over Facebook's content moderation decisions.
The Oversight Board chose its first six cases from the more than 20,000 appeals made since October, and the cases were chosen based on their ability to affect the widest range of posts and people, the questions they raise about Facebook's policies or their importance to public conversation, according to today's Oversight Board announcement.
In one case, a user appealed a decision to remove pictures of exposed female breasts that the user claimed were posted as part of a breast cancer awareness campaign. The post was removed because it violated Facebook's Adult Nudity and Sexual Activity Policy. In another case, a user appealed the decision to remove two posted screenshots of Tweets by the former Malaysian prime minister, in which the prime minister called for Muslim violence against French people. That post was removed for violating the company's hate speech policy, while the user claimed in the appeal that the screenshots were posted to raise awareness of the terrible words of the former prime minister. The reviewers also accepted one case referred by Facebook instead of through user appeal, about video and text removed for spreading misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic.
Each case will be reviewed by a five-member panel that includes at least one member from the region of the world in question in the case. The public comment period for each of the cases opens today and will remain open for seven days, and the Oversight Board will make a decision about each case within three months. Under the rules of the Oversight Board, Facebook is required to implement each decision and to publicly acknowledge and reply to any policy recommendations made by the review panel.
The start of deliberations marks the first real test for Facebook's new corporate governance body, which is structured as a separate legal entity from Facebook and is intended to remain independent from Facebook's board, including Mark Zuckerberg. If the board's oversight decisions are deemed to be successful (which depends on how you judge success, of course), its structure could allow other companies such as YouTube or Twitter to spin off their own similar oversight boards.
Anna Kramer is a reporter at Protocol (@ anna_c_kramer), where she helps write and produce Source Code, Protocol's daily newsletter. Prior to joining the team, she covered tech and small business for the San Francisco Chronicle and privacy for Bloomberg Law. She is a recent graduate of Brown University, where she studied International Relations and Arabic and wrote her senior thesis about surveillance tools and technological development in the Middle East.