Users can now ask Oversight Board to review a post if they think it should be removed from Facebook or Instagram

Facebook is now giving its users the ability to directly petition its Oversight Board regarding a piece of content that they think should be removed from the platform.

In a blog post, Facebook's Oversight Board said that:
Where users have exhausted Facebook’s appeals process, they can challenge the company’s decision by appealing eligible content to the Oversight Board. So far, users have been able to appeal content to the Board which they think should be restored to Facebook or Instagram. Now, users can also appeal content to the Board which they think should be removed from Facebook or Instagram. The Board will use its independent judgment to decide what to leave up and what to take down. Our decisions will be binding on Facebook. From today, this option is being rolled out and will be available to all users over the coming weeks.
Content strikes have become an almost prevalent issue on nearly every possible online media outlet. Platforms such as YouTube are particularly infamous for ruthlessly regulating its content creators, restricting videos if they carry even hints of copyrighted material, suggestive themes, or even swearing. Facebook has partaken in similar action, often restricting videos or posts on the basis of them featuring copyrighted songs, offensive content, etc. However, unlike YouTube, the social network’s user base had no clear cut way of ever challenging such strikes. Until recently, that is.

The Oversight Board was announced and commemorated in 2020. It was essentially designed as a way for Facebook to make content strikes that could prove to be publicly controversial, by distributing the responsibility amongst 20 separate members from backgrounds steeped in diversity and social media presence in order to remove bias. The Board can even make decisions independent of founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s input and say-so. The Board’s presence was especially necessitated in early 2021 when the US 2021 Capitol riots were incited by then US president Donald Trump, causing him to be banned from almost every social media platform. In order to avoid backlash and criticism focusing squarely on his shoulders, Zuckerberg chose to defer this decision of banning Trump to the Oversight Board.

While the Board’s presence has mostly been positive in nature, as it only intervenes in matters of propagative misinformation on Facebook, that very limited intervention also makes it difficult to gauge future effect. Whether or not the Oversight Board will shift from being helpful to cumbersome cannot be divulged from the limited decisions it has taken. However, Facebook’s choosing to set up a direct link to the Board for its user base is a rather proactive decision, perhaps directly stemming from past dissent its user base may have displayed in regards to content blockage. It is an especially large step since previously only Facebook HQ and higher-ups could choose to contest a decision made by the Oversight Board. Handing such a power to the social media platform’s general public does much in the way of empowering its user base in matters of curbing misinformation online.

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