Facebook has published its first response to recommendations on policy, content moderation, transparency and misinformation, that were put forth to the social media company by its newly set-up and independent Oversight Board. In January, the Board published its first set of decisions that it took on a handful of cases, which overturned initial decisions that were taken by Facebook basis its existing operational policies and community standards enforcement procedure. Now, Facebook wants the world to know how it acted basis the Oversight Board’s decisions in 17 particular areas, which also includes one area where it rejected the Board’s call.
Nick Clegg, Facebook’s VP of global affairs, wrote in a company blog post, “When we created the Oversight Board, we hoped its impact would come not just from its decisions on individual cases, but also from broader recommendations on how we can improve our policies and practices. This is the start of that process. The board deals with some of the trickiest content moderation issues Facebook faces, where there are often no easy decisions. We want this process to be as open and transparent as possible, which is why we are responding to every one of their recommendations in detail.”
We’ve updated Instagram’s policy on nudity to clarify that health-related nudity is permitted. We will also undertake a more comprehensive update to reflect all the policies we enforce on Instagram today
Broadly classified, Facebook’s actions are divided into three individual parts that include its efforts to promote transparency of operations, “calibrating” the use of automation and human moderation in flagging content, and actively evaluating Covid-19 information policies on the go. One of the bigger takeaways from Facebook’s response concerns Instagram’s nudity policy, which has often been criticised by those using the platform to raise awareness about issues such as health awareness or related areas. On this note, Facebook says, “We’ve updated Instagram’s policy on nudity to clarify that health-related nudity is permitted. We will also undertake a more comprehensive update to reflect all the policies we enforce on Instagram today, and give people more information on the relationship between Facebook’s Community Standards and Instagram’s Community Guidelines.”
This is one underlined area that will contribute to Facebook’s launch of a ‘Transparency Centre’, which the company states will happen “in the coming months”. The Oversight Board’s recommendations have also seemingly contributed to make Facebook take the additional step of explaining key terms in its community guidelines, which will better describe and add context to, say, why a post was banned, or why might a person be profiled as dangerous.
Actions to be taken by Facebook basis its Board recommendations include improvements to its automation algorithms, and better understanding when should human intervention be required for taking action on content or people on the platform. Finally, Clegg’s post clarifies one key area: retrospectively reinstating banned content basis previous action, and following precedent for it going forward.
As he states, “We’ve also started the process of reinstating identical content with parallel context in the following cases: Uyghur Muslims, Hydroxychloroquine, Azithromycin and COVID-19, and a Nazi Quote. These actions will affect not only content previously posted on Facebook and Instagram but also future content. For cases where the board upholds our final judgment, we will continue to ensure identical content with parallel context remains either up or down in line with the board’s decision.”
For a detailed view of the actions taken by Facebook basis its Oversight Board, click here.