Facebook’s long-awaited Oversight Board, which has the power to make rulings about Facebook’s content decisions, and, based on its findings, recommend removed content be reinstated, has announced its first slate of appeals from the social networking giant’s users.
Among this historic first? Just one U.S. case.
That’s right. In an election year in which misinformation and conspiracy theories social media (Facebook said it’s labeled 180 million posts as false since March) its Oversight Board has taken on a single U.S. case.
In an posted to the Oversight Board’s independent website on Tuesday, the committee overseeing content appeals on Facebook shared details of the first 6 cases they will be looking at.
The one U.S. case involves a user sharing a 2-year-old Facebook post of an alleged quote from Nazi Germany’s Reich Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels.
According to the Oversight Board:
A user in the U.S. was prompted by Facebook’s “On This Day” function to reshare a “Memory” in the form of a post the user made two years ago. The user reshared the content. The post (in English) is an alleged quote from Joseph Goebbels, the Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany, on the need to appeal to emotions and instincts, instead of intellect and on the unimportance of truth.
Facebook says it removed the post for violating its policies on . The policy basically prohibits any content on Facebook that has a “violent mission” and potential to cause real-world harm. This policy was used in October by Facebook in its decision to from its platform.
However, in the user’s appeal to the Oversight Board, they claim that Facebook misconstrued the post as a promotion of the sentiments, when it was intended as a warning … about President Trump.
“The user indicated in their appeal to the Oversight Board that the quote is important as the user considers the current U.S. presidency to be following a fascist model,” shared the Oversight Board.
Other cases taken up by the Oversight Board include a Brazilian user’s Instagram post, allegedly raising breast cancer awareness, for violating the platform’s nudity policies. Another case covers a post in a Facebook group in which a user criticized the French government for “refusing authorization for use of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin against COVID-19,” which the social network took down for violating its policies.
The Oversight board expects to hand down a decision for each case, and have Facebook act on it, within 90 days. There is also a week-long period for the cases, starting today.
While the Board says Facebook is “required to implement our decisions,” there are workarounds allowing Facebook to of acting on some individual rulings.
And remember, the goal of the Oversight Board is solely to provide rulings on Facebook’s individual content decisions. The Board doesn’t actually write any policy.
The goal may be that the Oversight Board’s rulings have an influence on Facebook’s policies, but the reality is, time will tell how effective the Oversight Board will be.