On social media platforms, people can express themselves. They can let others know about their hobbies, interests, etc., through their posts. Aside from introducing themselves to the world, they can use social media platforms to participate in public discussions.

Almost everybody is allowed on social media. That makes the platforms helpful in raising awareness and spreading information. Furthermore, since people have different stances and beliefs, posts on social media often lead to interesting conversations. Those conversations, in turn, help people understand more about each other. They enlighten them. 

But, if people can use posts to advocate for good causes, they can also use them for not-so-good things. For instance, they can spread misinformation through Facebook and Instagram. Also, they can say derogatory, sexist, racist, or other damaging, hateful things. Aside from that, they can use social media platforms to support criminals and criminal organizations. 

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Of course, the platforms are aware of this. Like their kind and mentally sound users, the companies want a peaceful world as well. To achieve that goal, they must not allow the spread of harmful behavior on their platforms. So, they impose policy guidelines determining whether a post should stay or be removed from the network. Also, they can ban problematic people from the platform to prevent them from further mischief. 

Facebook also allows users to report or flag what they deem is inappropriate. This way, the minorities can fight discrimination while the bullied can stop further abuse. It is, indeed, empowering. You can help these heroes by buying real Facebook followers on their accounts to help them increase the fame and power they wield on Facebook and off-site.

If it is not clear yet, social media encourages good use of the freedom of speech and expression. But what happens if they mess up their filters? They could silence many people fighting for what is right by accident. What could be seen as a simple mistake could not be simple at all. It could stop high ideals from flourishing and slow down social movements.

The Oversight Board

Facebook knows it is not suitable if it alone makes decisions about speech and online safety. Aside from that system being unfair, they could misjudge and make the wrong decision. So, the Oversight Board was created. It helps Facebook decide what content to allow and what to take down. Furthermore, the Board allows Facebook to identify the reason for doing the action. 

The Board is semi-independent and acts to ensure the best interests of the users and the platform is met. It supports people’s rights to free expression and guarantees those rights are respected. Still, it prevents misuse of the said rights.

The Oversight Board can review Facebook’s decisions on taking down content. After its review, it will decide whether to uphold or reverse Facebook’s decisions. The Board will give the final judgment, and Facebook must implement it unless it could violate the law.

But, keep in mind that the Oversight Board is not a simple extension of Facebook’s content review process. It will only review a select number of cases deemed highly problematic. Furthermore, it will only determine if decisions were made in accordance with Facebook’s stated values and policies.

Forty members from around the world who represent diverse disciplines and backgrounds form the Oversight Board. With this diversity, it will get better insights and understanding of the problems from different regions.

Another notable thing about the Board is its transparency. All of its decisions will be published and archived on its website. From this, Facebook and Instagram users can better understand what is allowed and what is not on the platforms. On top of that, the Board will release annual reports about its work. 

Oversight Board Reverses Decision Banning An Instagram Post

One user appealed to the Oversight Board to review a decision made by Instagram regarding his post. Moderators removed the post for violating a Facebook policy. However, the user believed the post did not violate Facebook’s policy in any way. 

The post contained a picture of Abdullah Öcalan, who is a founding member of the PKK. PKK is a group that used violence in seeking to achieve its aim of establishing an independent Kurdish state. Facebook classifies both Öcalan and the PKK as dangerous identities. Under Facebook’s Dangerous Individuals and Organizations policy, users are prevented from supporting such entities on its platforms.

The issue is, the post is not about supporting Öcalan. Instead, it encourages the readers to engage in conversation regarding the inhumane nature of solitary confinement. Öcalan just happened to be the best example of a prisoner that is under that type of imprisonment. 

After a thorough review, the content was restored to Instagram. It turns out that the post was accidentally banned because of a misplaced guidance policy. In addition to that, the guidelines were never made public to Instagram and Facebook users. That is why moderators were clueless about it going missing. 

We Learn From Our Mistakes

The guidance allows discussion on the conditions of confinement for individuals designated as dangerous. During the investigation, Facebook found out that the piece of guidance was ‘inadvertently not transferred to a new review system in 2018. That led to its decision to remove the content from Instagram. 

This incident has put the Board in unease. Facebook lost specific guidance for moderators on an important policy exception for three years. How many posts could have been wrongly removed because of that? As a flag bearer of free speech, the Board wants to investigate further. Unfortunately, Facebook tells the Board it is “not technically feasible” to do that. 

On the bright side of things, this incident has highlighted an issue that Facebook must address. It pushes Facebook to make its rules more transparent. According to the Oversight Board, it informs users of what is expected and empowers them to point out Facebook’s mistakes. That is why it is essential to publicize rules. 

 Still, keeping them secret comes with its own benefits. It prevents trolls and other bad actors from gaming the system. But that’s about it. The Board still notes, this kind of secrecy on a huge, diffuse service can make miscommunication easier. This case should be enough proof of that.


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