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This article was published on January 28, 2021

Facebook’s ‘supreme court’ overturns most of the platform’s post removals in its first rulings

The Oversight Board has overruled four of the first five decisions it's reviewed

Facebook’s ‘supreme court’ overturns most of the platform’s post removals in its first rulings

The Facebook Oversight Board has overturned the social network‘s decisions in four of the first five cases that it’s ruled on.

The cases collectively covered Asia, Europe, North America, and South America. All the rulings will be binding.

Facebook’ “supreme court” provided summaries of the five decisions:

  • Overturned: the removal of a post commenting on the supposed lack of reaction to the treatment of Uighur Muslims in China compared to the violent response.
  • Overturned: the removal of a post that included photos of breast cancer symptoms, some of which showed uncovered female nipples.
  • Overturned: the removal of a post that contained an alleged quote from Joseph Goebbels, the Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany
  • Overturned:  the removal of a post that criticized the lack of a health strategy in France and included claims that a cure for COVID-19 exists.
  • Upheld: the removal of a post that used the Russian word “тазики” (“taziks”) to describe Azerbaijanis, who the user claimed have no history compared to Armenians.

The full decisions have been published on the board’s website.

[Read: How this company leveraged AI to become the Netflix of Finland]

The rulings are the first decisions made by the board, an independent body that was launched last year to review Facebook’s policies.

Its 20 members include a former prime minister, a Yemeni Nobel Peace Prize laureate, a British Pulitzer winner, and a leading Columbian human rights layer.

The board said it has received more than 150,000 appeals since it began accepting cases in October 2020:

As we cannot hear every appeal, we are prioritizing cases that have the potential to affect lots of users around the world, are of critical importance to public discourse, or raise important questions about Facebook’s policies.

The members decided whether the content violated Facebook’s Community Standards and values, and whether the removals respected international human rights standards.

In several cases, members questioned whether Facebook’s rules were clear enough for users to understand,” the board said in a statement.

Each case was first assigned to a five-member panel. After the panel’s reached their decisions, their findings had to be approved by a majority of the board before a ruling was issued.

Bigger decisions will soon follow. Last week, the board announced it will review the suspension of Donald Trump’s account, with a ruling due within 90 days.

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