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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.

Go deeper

Jan 29, 2021 - Technology

Facebook seeks a new head of U.S. public policy

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Facebook is looking externally for a new U.S. policy chief as it moves Kevin Martin, a Republican who now holds the job, to a different position, per a memo seen by Axios.

Between the lines: Facebook is moving on from the Trump era in which Republicans held most of the power in Washington and Facebook was particularly eager among tech companies to forge warm relations with GOP policymakers.

Jan 29, 2021 - Technology

Facebook developing a tool to help advertisers avoid bad news

Photo Illustration: Avishek Das/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook on Friday said it's testing new advertiser "topic exclusion controls" to help address concerns marketers may have that their ads are appearing next to topics in Facebook's News Feed that they consider bad for their brand.  

Why it matters: As Axios has previously noted, the chaotic nature of the modern news cycle and digital advertising landscape has made it nearly impossible for brands to run ads against quality content in an automated fashion without encountering bad content.

App rush: Talent over trash

Data: Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. Chart: Michelle McGhee/Axios

Amid the sea of pollution on social media, another class of apps is soaring in popularity: The creators are paid, putting a premium on talent instead of just noise.

The big picture: Creator-economy platforms like Patreon, Substack and OnlyFans are built around content makers who are paid. It's a contrast to platforms like Facebook that are mostly powered by everyday users’ unpaid posts and interactions.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

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