Facebook Supreme Court Hands Down First Case Decisions: 4 of 5 Overturned

January 28th, 2021 5:03 PM

The Facebook Oversight Board (the Board) released its first several decisions. And as it turns out, Facebook could have saved a lot of time and effort by simply not censoring posts on the platform in the first place. 

The Board overturned four of the five cases it took on in December 2020. One case regarding a potential “veiled threat” against French president Emmanuel Macron is still pending. Facebook removed the posts in question, and users appealed to the Board in every instance but one, which “criticized the lack of a health strategy in France.” Facebook made the appeal in that particular case.

The only removal upheld by the Board dealt with a post that used the word “‘тазики’ (‘taziks’) to describe Azerbaijanis.” The Board commissioned a linguistic analysis and found that “taziks” was a term used “as a dehumanizing slur attacking national origin.” It further found that “The context in which the term was used makes clear it was meant to dehumanize its target.” 

The Board also examined a case in which Instagram removed a post using an automated system. The post appeared to “raise awareness of signs of breast cancer.” The post contained multiple photos, several of which included “visible and uncovered female nipples, while the remaining three photographs included female breasts, with the nipples either out of shot or covered by a hand.” 

The Board pointed out that Facebook and Instagram’s standards are “inconsistent” regarding “Adult Nudity and Sexual Activity,” as Facebook “specifically permits uncovered female nipples to advance ‘breast cancer awareness.’” 

Another post that the Board examined was “a quote which was incorrectly attributed to Joseph Goebbels, the Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany. The quote, in English, claimed that, rather than appealing to intellectuals, arguments should appeal to emotions and instincts. It stated that truth does not matter and is subordinate to tactics and psychology.” The user who posted the quote “said that their intent was to draw a comparison between the sentiment in the quote and the presidency of Donald Trump.” Facebook removed the post under its “Dangerous Individuals and Organizations” policy.

The Board overturned Facebook’s decision, and recommended that Facebook “Provide a public list” of the organizations and individuals designated as ‘dangerous’ under the Dangerous Individuals and Organizations Community Standard, or at the very least, provide a list of examples. What could possibly go wrong with Facebook providing such a list?

Of course, these are not the only cases that the Board will ever rule on. The Board is set to decide whether former President Donald Trump will be allowed back on Facebook or not. 

Conservatives are under attack. Contact Facebook headquarters at 1-650-308-7300 and demand that Big Tech be held to account to provide clarity on “hate speech” rules that seem to be applied inconsistently. If you have been censored, contact us at the Media Research Center contact form, and help us hold Big Tech accountable.