The Facebook Oversight Board will now consider appeals over content that users want to be removed, but for the regular user, nothing will change.
People could only appeal to have content that Facebook had taken down restored until now, but the new update now enables users to appeal to the board to have content that they believe should be withdrawn removed. Experts say it’s a step in the right direction for improving Facebook’s content moderation, but it won’t solve the platform’s real problems.
“I know [Facebook has] a diverse panel,” Tom Leach, co-founder, and director of Hike Agency, told Lifewire over the phone. “But I think Facebook has a long way to go, and this is just a drop in the ocean.”
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“Having an autonomous board is good, but it doesn’t feel like much change.”
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A New Appellate Procedure
- Last year, the Oversight Board was formed as a kind of mini-judicial branch within the Facebook empire. The 40-member board establishes a checks-and-balances structure for the social media behemoth, with the board at the helm of decision-making.
- The Oversight Board wrote in its announcement of the new appeals process, “Since content will be live on Facebook and Instagram, more people will be able to report the same piece of content.”
- “Multiple user appeals may be consolidated into a single case file for the Board in these cases. Since multiple users may report the same material, the Board can take into account multiple user submissions in a single case.”
- People may become more conscious and wary about what they post and upload as a result of the policy change, and their whole page may not be reported through the process.
- Unreasonable decisions regarding content removal or grievances being ignored, according to Sonya Schwartz, creator of Her Standard, could be drastically reduced.
- In an email to Lifewire, Schwartz wrote, “The platform would have a better chance of meeting the needs and hearing objections from the users.”
- “It will also tighten its adherence to the rules it has published. Users who are abused, bullied, or subjected to other inhumane actions will now be able to take more concrete steps to defend themselves.”
Ignoring the True Problems
However, according to Leach, the appeals process also has some significant flaws.
“They can spam the system and clog it up if a single page has a lot of fans and rallies them all to appeal something,” he said.
Opening the door for users to flag what they want to delete, according to Andrew Selepak, a social media professor at the University of Florida, would flood Facebook with requests for content removal, particularly if they see anything that contradicts their political or cultural beliefs.
“Handing over the keys to users to behave as thought police would only lead to abuse, outrage about posts being taken down or not being taken down, and users spending less time on Facebook and searching for alternatives where their voices are not banned, silenced, or threatened with removal,” Selepak wrote in an email to Lifewire.
Others argue that the Oversight Board, no matter how good or poor the current appeals process is, would not be the solution to Facebook’s long-standing problems.
According to the Real Facebook Oversight Board, which was established by the nonprofit All the Citizens to keep Facebook responsible, the Oversight Board is Facebook’s way of refusing to “take responsibility for harmful and false content across its channels.”
- In response to the appeals update, the Real Facebook Oversight Board wrote, “Instead of asking hard questions about how its site was used to promote an insurgency, it has set up a pseudo-court of appeal.”
- “The Oversight Board is nothing more than a mechanism for delegating authority to a third party with extremely limited powers.”
- Leach went on to say that Facebook’s efforts to improve are mostly in the best interests of the site, not its 2.8 billion users.
- “It feels like [Facebook] is choosing one side over the other with every move they make, and it’s whichever side pays the most money,” Leach said.
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