Facebook's Oversight Board begins accepting appeals

NEW DELHI: Facebook’s Oversight Board will now begin accepting appeals, it said on Thursday.

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

Users of Facebook or its photo and video sharing app Instagram can submit appeals on content removal to the board for independent review.

The US-based social media giant can also refer cases to the board for a decision on whether content should remain or be taken down from Facebook or Instagram.

Decisions by the board will be independent and binding on Facebook, the board said.

Over the following months, people can also appeal to the board on content they want Facebook to remove.

Thomas Hughes, director of the Oversight Board administration – who announced the start of operations in a webinar, said there were ‘many’ on the board who want to hear cases as soon as possible.

“We share that ambition. We understand that this would impact millions or even billions of Facebook users across the world,” he said.

In May, Facebook announced the first 20 members of the Oversight Board, including Sudhir Krishnaswamy, the vice chancellor of the National Law School of India University.

Facebook has faced the heat in markets such as India after a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report alleged that the social media giant had not applied hate speech rules to posts by certain BJP leaders and groups flagged internally for allegedly promoting violence.

Users can submit an eligible case for review through the Oversight Board website once they have exhausted their content appeals with Facebook.

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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,” he added.

Brent Harris, Facebook’s director of strategic initiatives, said the company has also worked on a case management tool and that the product capabilities to appeal to the board on Facebook’s platforms would be rolled out in ‘waves’ to users, like all Facebook products.

“We expect users on Facebook and Instagram to technically be able to do that in the coming few weeks. The case management tool will show only relevant information to the board and will do so securely, taking into account all legal considerations,” he said.

Oversight Board members can use the case management tool while keeping user data secure and a ‘small’ group of Facebook employees will work on the tool, he added.

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 will make the decision alone. Each case will have a public comment period to allow third parties to share their insights with the board.

Case descriptions will be posted on the board’s website with a request for public comment before the board begins deliberations. These descriptions will not include any information which could potentially identify the users involved in a case, the board said.

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The board expects to reach case decisions and Facebook to act on these decisions within a maximum of 90 days.



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