Jan 28, 2021 - Technology

Facebook Oversight Board overturns 4 of its 5 first cases

Illustration of an old-fashioned etching of a legislator with a Facebook "like" thumbs up hand

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Facebook's independent Oversight Board published its first set of decisions Thursday, overturning four of the five cases it chose to review out of 20,000 cases submitted.

Why it matters: The decision to go against Facebook's conclusions in four out of five instances gives legitimacy to the board, which is funded via a $130 million grant from Facebook.

  • The decisions also offer a glimpse into how the board may approach these cases moving forward. Overturning Facebook's decisions to remove certain content — whether for hate speech, nudity or violence — shows that the board tends to favor free speech.

Details: "Today’s decisions are binding on Facebook and we will hold the company accountable for implementing them," the board said in a statement.

  • Facebook responded it will update the Newsroom posts about each case within 30 days "to explain how we have considered the policy recommendations, including whether we will put them through our policy development process."
  • In debuting its rulings, the board also issued nine policy recommendations to the company. Facebook has up to 30 days to fully consider and respond to these recommendations.
  • "We believe that the board included some important suggestions that we will take to heart. Their recommendations will have a lasting impact on how we structure our policies," said Monika Bickert, Facebook's VP of content policy, in a statement.

What's next: The Board has accepted a referral from Facebook to review its decision to indefinitely suspend former President Trump. That decision is expected within 90 days.

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