Now if users’ content is removed from Facebook or Instagram and you have exhausted the company’s appeal process, they can object to this decision by appealing to the Facebook Oversight Board.
Facebook can now also refer cases for a decision about whether content should remain up or come down. In the coming months, users will also be able to appeal to the Oversight Board about the content they want Facebook to remove.
The Oversight Board is a body that has the authority to decide whether Facebook and Instagram should allow or remove content. If a user has already requested that Facebook or Instagram review one of its content decisions and they disagree with the final decision, they can appeal to the board. All decisions on cases taken by the Oversight Board will be binding on the company.
The board is an ‘independent’ body, a seperate entity from the Facebook company. Although, formation of the Oversight Board and its authoritative power over content moderation on Facebook platforms has been controversial with several questioning its credibility and integrity.
This also led to the formation of ‘The Real Facebook Oversight Board‘, an initiative undertaken by a group of journalists, academics, researchers, civil rights activists, Facebook’s ex-head of election security, leaders of the #StopHateForProfit campaign and an early Facebook investor. The group is focussing on the voter suppression issues, spread of disinformation, and content moderation in the light of the ongoing US Elections.
The Oversight Board has been in the works since November 2018, and has gone through several phases of development starting from the concept of the board, and has now begun operations, despite the ongoing concerns.
The Oversight Board staff will evaluate submitted cases, and the board will consider eligible cases from those submissions as it determines which to review in-depth.
The board will define the criteria that selects eligible cases that are difficult, significant, and globally relevant that can inform future policy.
Once a case has been selected, a panel of members will be assigned to it and will receive information to help with their in-depth review. This includes information shared by the person who submitted the appeal as well as contextual information from the Facebook company. The board mentions information shared would be in compliance with applicable legal and privacy restrictions.
The panel will deliberate the case and make a decision based on all the information provided by the person who submitted the appeal, by Facebook, and by any experts called upon to provide further context. For example, the panel may decide to reverse Facebook’s decision to remove a piece of content. This decision will be binding, which means that Facebook will be required to implement it unless doing so could violate the law.
The board will produce a written explanation of its decision, which will be available for the public to read on this website. People whose content is selected for review may choose to give the board permission to share details that could easily identify them or data with special protections in that written explanation. The individual who submitted the appeal will be notified of the board’s decision.
- Appeals must come from an active account holder
- Facebook must have already reviewed its initial decision
- Content decisions must be eligible for appeal. Not all content decisions are eligible for appeal. When a decision is eligible, the update from Facebook or Instagram will include a reference ID that can be used to submit an appeal
- Appeals must be submitted within 15 days from the time Facebook or Instagram sends an update about its final content policy decision to submit an appeal to the board.
Steps In The Appeals process
A user submits an appeal to the board stating why the board should hear the case and why Facebook or Instagram’s content decision was wrong.
The Oversight Board staff evaluate submitted cases, and the board considers eligible cases from those submissions as it determines which to review in-depth. The board prioritizes cases based on the criteria set forth in the by-laws. Not all cases will be taken up by the board.
A subset of the board deliberates and issues a draft decision.
The entire board will have the opportunity to review the draft decision before it becomes final. The board will publish a written statement about its decision, which may include a policy recommendation for Facebook.
Facebook will implement the board’s decision, except when doing so could violate the law. It will respond publicly to both the board’s content decisions and policy recommendations.