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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

More than 20,000 people have submitted cases to Facebook's independent Oversight Board since the board started accepting user appeals in October, the organization announced Monday, and it has selected six initial cases for review.

Why it matters: The number of submissions speaks to the multitude of people who feel the platform's moderation of their content has wronged them. The tiny number of cases getting reviewed speaks to the limits of human oversight on a platform the size of Facebook, as well as to the novelty of the board's process and the complex nature of the cases chosen.

Details: The board's six cases, each from a different country around the world, address controversial issues, ranging from terrorism to nudity, and all six represent appeals by users who want to reverse Facebook's decision to take down their posts.

  • Three of the six cases address hate speech violations, which Facebook says is one of the most prevalent forms of content removed on its platform aside from nudity.

The cases:

  • In one case, Facebook removed a user's post quoting violent rhetoric from former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, but the user says the post was intended to spread awareness of the "horrible words."
  • Another case involves a user's posting an argument about differing treatment of churches and mosques in Armenia and Azerbaijan.
  • A user in Brazil posted photos depicting breast cancer to raise awareness, but Facebook took them down because nipples were showing.
  • A quote from Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels appeared in a post by a U.S. user who says he intended it to underscore a slide toward fascism in America. Facebook removed the post under its "Dangerous Individuals and Organizations" policy.
  • The only case that was referred to the board by Facebook itself, rather than users, involves the removal of COVID-19 misinformation.

Our thought bubble: The pattern here is, users are trying to make complex points about thorny issues and Facebook keeps applying literal-minded bans.

  • The challenge for the Oversight Board will be discerning whether users are posting these arguments in good faith or trying to make end runs around Facebook's rules.

What's next: The board says that within 90 days it expects to reach decisions that Facebook must act on.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to state that over 20,000 cases were submitted, not 200,000.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Jan 22, 2021 - Technology

Review of Trump ban marks major turning point for Facebook

Photo Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Facebook's decision to ask its new independent Oversight Board to review the company's indefinite suspension of former President Trump is likely to set a critical precedent for how the social media giant handles political speech from world leaders.

What they're saying: "I very much hope and can expect … that they will uphold our decision," Facebook's VP of global affairs Nick Clegg tells Axios.

Updated 4 hours ago - World

Mexican President López Obrador tests positive for coronavirus

Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador during a press conference at National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, on Wednesday. Photo: Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced Sunday evening that he's tested positive for COVID-19.

Driving the news: López Obrador tweeted that he has mild symptoms and is receiving medical treatment. "As always, I am optimistic," he added. "We will all move forward."

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor of Arkansas

Sarah Huckabee Sanders at FOX News' studios in New York City in 2019. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will announce Monday that she's running for governor of Arkansas.

The big picture: Sanders was touted as a contender after it was announced she was leaving the Trump administration in June 2019. Then-President Trump tweeted he hoped she would run for governor, adding "she would be fantastic." Sanders is "seen as leader in the polls" in the Republican state, notes the Washington Post's Josh Dawsey, who first reported the news.