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Oversight Board overturns Facebook’s decision to remove comment

Oversight Board on Thursday overturned Facebook's decision to remove a comment intended to criticise the Turkish government

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The independent Oversight Board on Thursday overturned Facebook’s decision to remove a comment intended to criticise the Turkish government. “This case highlighted inconsistencies in how Facebook applies its rules and a lack of transparency in how its regulations and exceptions are communicated to users,” the board said in a statement.

On December 24, 2020, a Facebook user in the US posted a comment with an adaptation of the ‘daily struggle’ or ‘two buttons’ meme. This featured the split-screen cartoon from the original ‘two buttons’ meme, but with a Turkish flag substituted for the cartoon character’s face. The cartoon character has its right hand on its head and appears to be sweating.

Above the character, in the other half of the split-screen, are two red buttons with corresponding statements in English: “The Armenian Genocide is a lie” and “The Armenians were terrorists that deserved it.”

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Facebook first removed the comment under the Cruel and Insensitive Community Standard and informed the user of this. After the user’s appeal, it found that the content should have been removed under its Hate Speech Community Standard. However, it did not inform the user.

The Board overturned the social media giant’s decision and required that the comment be restored. The Board also made a number of recommendations to Facebook.

It suggested that if Facebook determines that a user’s content violates a different Community Standard to the one the user was originally told about, they should have another opportunity to appeal. Users should always have the correct information before coming to the Board.

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The Board also asked Facebook to ensure that it has adequate procedures in place to assess satirical content and relevant context, including providing content moderators with access to the social media platform’s local operation teams to gather relevant cultural and background information.

Further, the social media giant must also let users indicate in their appeal that their content falls into one of the exceptions to the Hate Speech policy. This includes exceptions for satirical content and where users share hateful content to condemn it or raise awareness.

The board, constituted by Facebook with 20 members from across the world last year, last month said it was reviewing more than 9,000 responses before it delivers the verdict on Trump’s ban on social media.

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