FB users can now approach Oversight Board against content removal

An independent Facebook oversight board with 20 external members of the society (including one from India) is now functional and people who disagree with Facebooks decision to take down content and has exhausted its existing appeals process, can appeal their cases to the Oversight Board.

The oversight board was formed in May this year to offer a new model of content moderation for Facebook and Instagram.

“In order to review and hear cases, board members will need a secure way of accessing and reviewing all the necessary information on the content in question,” Facebook said in a statement late on Thursday.

The social network has built a case management tool that will allow board members to collaborate and review information from anywhere in the world.

The tool will only show information to the Oversight Board that is relevant to the board’s operations, in line with the Board’s purpose, and in accordance with all the necessary and relevant legal and privacy considerations outlined in the Board’s foundational documents.

“Those at Facebook who will review information within the case management tool will be a small group of employees responsible for supporting the Board’s proceedings,” informed Fay Johnson, Product Lead, Integrity Transparency & Oversight at Facebook.

Finally, when case decisions are made public by the board, information which could easily identify an individual will only be published with the impacted individual’s consent.

“Without this consent, all information which could easily identify an individual will be removed before the case decision is published”.

The Facebook oversight board has onboarded Sudhir Krishnaswamy, Vice Chancellor of the National Law School of India University in Bengaluru and the only member in the board from India.

According to Facebook, within the case management tool, members of the Board will have access to basic information they would reasonably require to make a decision.

The board can also request additional information about the case from Facebook, such as details on engagement and reach of the content, how the content was reported or additional details about the relevant policy and how we enforce it that can help provide context.

Facebook said it will review these requests on a case-by-case basis.

There are two ways content can be brought to the board for review.

One is through people who disagree with Facebook’s decision and have gone through Facebook’s appeals process. These are called User Generated Appeals.

The second way is through Facebook itself. Facebook can refer “significant and difficult” cases directly to the Board. These cases are called Facebook Referred Cases.

“We will notify a user that the content they posted is being sent to the board”.

According to Krishnaswamy, the Facebook board will also review whether Facebook and Instagram will implement its decisions.

“Both Facebook and Instagram as well as their CEO have given a clear unequivocal undertaking that the decisions of the board will be implemented. We are confident that our decisions will be implemented,” he told IANS in an earlier interview.

However, Krishnaswamy, who is also Co-Founder of the Center for Law and Policy Research which works to advance constitutional values for everyone, including the LGBTQ+ and transgender persons in India, added that whether in the physical world or the Internet universe, there will always be some “compliance problem”.

In November 2018, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced a new ‘independent’ body to provide outside oversight and in May this year, the first 20 members of its new Oversight Board were announced.