Facebook Oversight Board begins accepting appeals

The Oversight Board has announced that Facebook and Instagram users can now submit appeals on content removal to the Board for an independent review.

The Oversight Board is a global body that makes independent decisions on whether specific contents should be allowed or removed from Facebook and Instagram.

A statement issued by the Oversight Board yesterday said decisions made by the Board would be independent and binding on Facebook, stressing from next month onwards “people will also have the opportunity to appeal to the Board on contents they want Facebook to remove”.

It said users could submit an eligible case for review through the Board’s website since they had exhausted their content appeals with Facebook, indicating that Facebook could also refer cases to the Board on an ongoing basis, including emergency circumstances under the Expedited Review procedure.

“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,” it said.

The statement said the Board was expected to reach case decisions and Facebook would have to act on these decisions within a maximum of 90 days.  

“We won’t be able to hear every appeal, but 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,” said Catalina Botero-Marino, Co-Chair of the Oversight Board.

“Human rights and freedom of expression will be at the core of every decision we make. These cases will have far-reaching, real world consequences. It is our job to ensure we are serving users and holding Facebook accountable,” said Botero-Marino.

“Content that could lead to urgent, real-world consequences will be reviewed as quickly as possible.  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,” said  Jamal Greene, Co-Chair of the Oversight Board.

The Oversight Board formally announced in May, 2020 it had three members representing Africa.

They are Afia Asantewaa Asare-Kyei, a human rights lawyer and Program Manager at the Open Society Initiative for West Africa, for Senegal, Ghana and South Africa; Julie Owono, a digital rights advocate and Executive Director of Internet Sans Frontières for Cameroon and Maina Kiai, a human rights activist and Director of Human Rights Watch’s Global Alliances and Partnerships programme for Kenya.


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