The Oversight Board has announced that Facebook and Instagram users can now submit appeals on content removal to the Oversight Board for an independent review. Facebook can also refer cases for a decision about whether content should remain up or come down from either Facebook or Instagram.
Decisions made by the Board will be independent and binding upon Facebook. Over the following months, people will also have opportunity to appeal to the Board on content they want Facebook to remove.
The Oversight Board is a global body that will make independent decisions on whether specific content should be allowed or removed from Facebook and Instagram. Board Members are drawn from around the world, with backgrounds in free expression, digital rights, online safety and other related fields.
“The Board is eager to get to work,” said Catalina Botero-Marino, Co-Chair of the Oversight Board. “We won’t be able to hear every appeal, but we want our decisions to have the widest possible value and will be prioritising cases that have the potential to impact many users around the world, are of critical importance to public discourse, and raise questions about Facebook’s policies.”
Users can submit an eligible case for review through the Oversight Board website, once they have exhausted their content appeals with Facebook. Facebook can also refer cases to the Board on an ongoing basis, including in emergency circumstances under the Expedited Review procedure.
“Content that could lead to urgent, real-world consequences will be reviewed as quickly as possible,” said Jamal Greene, Co-Chair of the Oversight Board. “The Board provides a critical independent check on Facebook’s approach to moderating content on the most significant issues, but doesn’t remove the responsibility of Facebook to act first and to act fast in emergencies.”
After selection, cases will be assigned to a five-member panel with at least one member from the region implicated in the content. No single Board Member makes a decision alone. Cases will be decided upon using both Facebook’s Community Standards and Values and international human rights standards. In addition to now accepting cases, the Board is able to recommend changes to Facebook’s Community Standards alongside its decisions.
Each case will have a public comment period to allow third-parties share their insights with the Board. Case descriptions will be posted on the Board website with a request for public comment before the Board begins deliberations. These descriptions will not include any information that could potentially identify the users involved in a case.
“Human rights and freedom of expression will be at the core of every decision we make,” said Botero-Marino. “These cases will have far-reaching, real-world consequences. It is our job to ensure we are serving users and holding Facebook accountable.”
The Board expects to reach case decisions and Facebook to act on those decisions within a maximum of 90 days. The Oversight Board was formally announced in May, 2020.
The three members representing Africa on the Board are: Afia Asantewaa Asare-Kyei, a human rights lawyer and Programme Manager at the Open Society Initiative for West Africa from Senegal, Ghana and South Africa; Julie Owono, a digital rights advocate and Executive Director of Internet Sans Frontières from Cameroon; and Maina Kiai, a human rights activist and Director of Human Rights Watch’s Global Alliances and Partnerships programme from Kenya.
The Oversight Board, comprising independent members from around the world, makes binding decisions on what content Facebook and Instagram should allow or remove – based on respect for freedom of expression and human rights. The Oversight Board is focused on addressing some of the most significant content moderation decisions on Facebook and Instagram that are referred by both users and Facebook.