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28 Jan 2021

Facebook Oversight Board

Facebook Oversight Board overturns most company actions reviewed in first case decisions

In the five case decisions published today, the Board overturned four of Facebook’s decisions, upheld one and issued nine policy recommendations to the company. The cases covered four continents: Asia, Europe, North America and South America.

None of these cases had easy answers and deliberations revealed the enormous complexity of the issues involved.

In one case, Board Members looked at whether, in the context of an armed conflict, Facebook was right to remove an otherwise-permissible post because it contained a hateful slur. In another, they examined whether a post accused of spreading COVID-19 misinformation contributed to imminent harm. In several cases, Members questioned whether Facebook’s rules were clear enough for users to understand.

These decisions followed a process which was thorough, principled and globally relevant, as outlined in the Board’s Rulebook. The Board’s decisions are binding on Facebook and provide a critical independent check on how the company moderates content.

The outcome of the Board’s decisions

After careful deliberation, the Board has:

Overturned Facebook’s decision on case 2020-002-FB-UA to remove a post under its Community Standard on Hate Speech. The post commented on the supposed lack of reaction to the treatment of Uyghur Muslims in China, compared to the violent reaction to cartoons in France...

Public comments

Today, alongside our first decisions, we are also publishing nearly 80 public comments.

These provided valuable insights in areas such as local context and Facebook’s Community Standards, as well as giving feedback on the public comments process itself. They shaped the Board’s thinking and, in one case, a policy recommendation drew upon public comments.