From hate speech to nudity, Fb's oversight board picks its first instances

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Facebook logos

By Elizabeth Culliford

(Reuters) – Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ 🙂 & # 39; s independent oversight body announced Tuesday the first six cases where it could override the social media company's decisions to remove certain content from its platforms.

The board, which Facebook created in response to criticism of its handling of problematic content, said it has received 20,000 cases since it opened in October.

Three of the six cases concerned content that Facebook removed for violating the hate speech rules.

An Oversight Board spokesman said hate speech cases were "the largest proportion" of complaints received.

"Hate speech is a particularly difficult area," said Jamal Greene, a co-chair of the board and professor at Columbia Law School, in an interview with Reuters. "It's not that easy … for an algorithm to determine the context of such a language."

In November, Facebook first announced numbers on the spread of hate speech on the platform. Out of 10,000 content views in the third quarter, 10 to 11 contained hate speech.

The board's other selected cases involved content removed from Facebook or Instagram for violating the rules on adult nudity, dangerous people and organizations, and violence and incitement. Greene said they raised "important questions about drawing lines".

One case was filed by Facebook itself. The company said this case highlighted the challenge it faced when it came to the risks of offline harm caused by misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Facebook can also ask the board for non-binding policy recommendations, but Greene said it hasn't done so yet.

The board of directors has opened a one-week public comment period on the first cases, which is being examined by five-member bodies. There is a 90 day period to make decisions about the cases and Facebook to respond.

The board, criticized for its limited remit, intends to hear cases from users in early 2021 about content left on the site or removed.

This week, a group of Facebook critics, titled "The Real Facebook Oversight Board," announced that three cases that have not yet been approved for the official board of directors, including a dispute over Steve Bannon's Facebook account, former President Donald Trump's advisor.

When asked about this group, a spokeswoman for Facebook's board of directors said: "A lot of people have opinions about Facebook. The board focuses on making binding decisions and making policy recommendations that hold Facebook accountable."

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