Meta: Trying Not to Zuck Up

July 20, 2022

Meta is the umbrella company for Facebook and Instagram. The company created the Oversight board to monitor appeals for content moderation on the platforms. The BBC examines the Meta and the banned content in: “Meta Board Hears Over A Million Appeals Over Removed Posts.” The majority of the disputed posts were from Canada, Europe, and the United States. They contained violent, hate speech, or bullying content.

The Oversight Board published twenty cases of appealed content and ruled against Meta in fourteen of them. Some of the cases were: photos of female breasts in a breast cancer post, a photo of a dead child with text about whether it was right to retaliate against China for how it treats Uighur Muslims, and the decision to ban Donald Trump after the January 6 rots. The board overturned banning the breast and dead child images, but supported the Trump decision.

The Oversight Board was originally going to review 130 cases, but Meta agreed that it was wrong removing content on fifty-one of them.

“Board director Thomas Hughes said it looked for “emblematic” cases with “problematic elements” to take on. He added that the categories of hate speech, violence and bullying were “difficult-to-judge issues” – especially for automated systems. ‘Also in many of those cases, context is extremely important,’ he said.”

The Oversight Board released its first annual report covering October 2020-December 2121. Anyone can appeal a decision about removed content. During the first period, 1.1 million cases were received, 2,600 cases are reported a day, and 47 of them came to the board. Most of the complaints came from western countries. Ninety-four percent of the requests were to restore content mostly a user’s posts.

The Oversight Board is compared to a supreme court for Meta and Mark Zuckerberg formed it. Meta pays for its costs, but it operates separately. Its members include human rights activists, lawyers, academics, and journalists. During the appeals session, the board made 86 more recommendations, including translating policies into more languages and being more specific about what constitutes hate speech.

Whitney Grace, July 20, 2022


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