Facebook, Instagram users can now appeal to Oversight Board for removal of harmful content

Facebook, which has faced flak in many parts of the world over various issues, including data breaches and handling of hate speech, had set up the Oversight Board last year.
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An independent board set up by Facebook to look into hate speech and other undesirable content on the platform on Tuesday said it will now accept cases from Facebook and Instagram users who believe the company wrongfully allowed such content to remain on these social media platforms.

Facebook, which has faced flak in many parts of the world over various issues, including data breaches and handling of hate speech, had set up the Oversight Board last year.

The board includes former judges, journalists, and human rights activists, who review appeals from users on material that has been taken down from Facebook and Instagram, and make binding content decisions for the social networking platforms.

"Enabling users to appeal content they want to see removed from Facebook is a significant expansion of the Oversight Board's capabilities," Thomas Hughes, director of the Oversight Board Administration, said in a statement.

The Oversight Board said this new capability -- long sought by advocates of independent content moderation -- represents an important step towards delivering a more principled and transparent model of content moderation.

Decisions made through the Board's independent judgment are binding on Facebook.

Hughes noted that the Oversight Board was created to ensure that fewer decisions about highly significant content issues be taken by Facebook alone.

Better decisions can be delivered through an independent and transparent process that works to safeguard human rights and freedom of expression and the latest announcement is another step towards realising this, Hughes said.

Since October 2020, users have been able to appeal to the Oversight Board about their own content being removed.

With an expanding rollout over the coming weeks, users -- after exhausting Facebook's appeals process -- will receive an Oversight Board Reference ID and can formally appeal for independent review.

The content eligible for review includes posts, status updates, photos, videos, comments and shares, the statement said.

As content will be live on Facebook and Instagram, many people may report the same piece of content. In these cases, multiple user appeals will be gathered into a single case file for the Board, providing greater context of the impact of the content.

As with appeals on content that users want restored to Facebook, users may appeal to the Oversight Board once they have exhausted the appeals process with the company, the statement said.

The Oversight Board started receiving cases in October 2020. So far, the Board has received over 300,000 user appeals and thousands of public comments.

Edited by Megha Reddy

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