Facebook Oversight Overturns Four Out Of Five Cases In Victory For Free Speech
Facebook’s Oversight Board – comprised of 20 journalists, politicians and judges from around the world – has overturned four out of five cases in which the social media giant removed posts for violating its policies on hate speech, violence or other issues, according to NBC News.
The first-ever rulings do not include whether or not to overturn former President Trump’s account in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, which the oversight board will consider in the weeks ahead.
Facebook says it will abide by the board’s decisions.
Formed last year and tasked with passing judgement on decisions made by the social media giant’s overwhelmingly liberal moderators, the Oversight Board claims total independence – and based on Thursday’s rulings – appears to favor free speech over woke activism.
“For all board members, you start with the supremacy of free speech,” said board member Alan Rusbridger, former editor-in-chief of the Guardian. “Then you look at each case and say, what’s the cause in this particular case why free speech should be curtailed?”
The first round of cases involved posts which were removed for violating policies. Not only were 80% of them overturned, the board called on Facebook to provide users with greater clarity over its policies and how it plans to enforce them, according to the report.
The cases (via NBC News):
In the first case, Facebook had removed a post from a user in Myanmar who appeared to disparage Muslims as psychologically inferior. While the company decided that the post violated its policy, the board ruled that terms used “were not derogatory or violent.”
“While the post might be considered pejorative or offensive towards Muslims, it did not advocate hatred or intentionally incite any form of imminent harm,” the board wrote.
In the second case, a user posted a term to describe Azerbaijanis that Facebook interpreted as a slur. The board similarly ruled that “the context in which the term was used makes clear it was meant to dehumanize its target,” and upheld Facebook’s decision.
The third case pertained to nudity: the board overturned Facebook’s decision to remove an Instagram post from a user in Brazil intended to raise awareness about breast cancer. The post included five photographs that showed women’s nipples, which the board declared permissible in light of Facebook’s own policy exception for “breast cancer awareness.”
The fourth case pertained to violence: One user quoted Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propagandist who is on Facebook’s list of “dangerous individuals.” Facebook policy states that quotes attributed to such individuals are an expression of support for that individual unless otherwise stated. But the board said the quote “did not support the Nazi party’s ideology or the regime’s acts of hate and violence.”
The fifth and final case pertained to misinformation: Facebook had removed a post from a user in France that falsely claimed a cure for Covid-19 existed and criticized the French government for failing to make it available. Facebook said the post could lead people to ignore health guidance or attempt to self-medicate.
The board, considering the context of the user’s post, argued that the user was “opposing a governmental policy and aimed to change that policy,” and that his post would not lead people to self-medicate since the combination of those medicines was not available without a prescription.
Is this the beginning of the un-wokening? Only time will tell.
Thu, 01/28/2021 – 13:17