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Facebook's Oversight Board issues first batch of decisions

The board overturned four of Facebook's prior content moderation decisions and upheld one. It also issued nine policy recommendations for Facebook, including urging Facebook to clarify and increase transparency around its health misinformation policies and pushing the company to publish its list of Dangerous Individuals and Organizations, who are barred from Facebook.

The board recently took up its most high-profile case in determining whether Facebook was right to ban former President Trump from the platform following the Jan. 6 insurrection. But the board has 90 days to issue a decision in that case and will soon open up public comments. While the decisions the board issued Thursday aren't the flashiest, they do provide a window into how the board will operate going forward. Here are the board's decisions:

  • The board overturned a case in which Facebook took down a post that included now-famous photos of Alan Kurdi, a Syrian toddler who drowned in the Mediterranean Sea while fleeing with his family to Europe. The post "questioned the lack of response by Muslims generally to the treatment of Uyghur Muslims in China," the board writes. "The board concluded that although the posts might be seen as pejorative, read in context, it did not amount to hate speech," board co-chair Michael McConnell said on a call with reporters.
  • The board overturned a case in which Instagram took down a post that exposed female nipples to raise awareness about breast cancer symptoms. "After the board announced it would be reviewing this user's appeal Facebook reconsidered its decision, and restored the post, even before the board had the time and opportunity to render a decision," McConnell said.
  • The board overturned Facebook's decision to take down a post that included an alleged Joseph Goebbels quote in order to criticize the quote. "The board concluded it was a criticism, not a celebration of the attitude exemplified by the alleged Goebbels quote," McConnell said.
  • The board overturned a decision in which Facebook removed a post that touted an alleged cure for COVID-19 and criticized France's health strategy. The board determined that Facebook needed to more clearly articulate its health misinformation policies.
  • The board upheld Facebook's decision to take down a post in which a Facebook user used a derogatory term to describe Azerbaijanis, which the board determined was used to dehumanize people based on their national origin.
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