(AmericanPoliticalDaily)- Facebook’s controversial Oversight Board has done its job! But, it’s significantly too little and significantly too late.
On Thursday, the independent board issues its first rulings. Members overturned four of five decisions by the social media giant to remove questionable content.
Critics, though, said the Oversight Board’s rulings are irrelevant because of how much racism, extremism and misinformation is still on Facebook, even as the company says it has beefed up efforts to stop it in recent years.
Guatum Hans, who is an expert on civil liberties and intellectual property working for Vanderbilt University, said:
“The whole thing is kind of like putting new windows on a house in which the roof has caved in. The [Oversight Board] can’t do very much — it selects a tiny percentage of potential cases — to fix a company with so many systemic and in my opinion unfixable problems.”
That being said, Hans did say he respects the Oversight Board’s efforts. He said he believes “there are some clear distinctions” between what Facebook does and what the board believes should be the company’s standards.
The Oversight Board was set up by Facebook to rule on issues related to content posted on its platform. They did this after many people criticized them for lacking an ability to respond effectively and swiftly to hate speech, misinformation and campaigns of nefarious influence.
Facebook takes downs plenty of accounts and posts on a daily basis. Since the Oversight Board was created in October, 150,000 of the cases of removal of an account or post have been appealed to the panel.
The panel said they are prioritizing any cases that have the potential to affect a large number of Facebook users around the world.
Its first rulings ordered the social media giant to restore posts they had deleted that Facebook said violated its standards on hate speech, dangerous individuals or adult nudity.
One of the cases was an Instagram user’s post about breast cancer. The user, from Brazil, had their post removed automatically because it included images that showed female nipples. The Oversight Board said it should’ve been OK because Facebook makes exceptions for breast cancer awareness.
While that decision seems innocent enough, the Oversight Board didn’t escape without significantly criticism over its decisions. The post in question was a user from Myanmar who shared on Facebook two photos of a dead toddler from Syria as part of a post in Burmese about Muslims. The board said the post was offensive, but it didn’t reach the level of hate speech.
In response to that decision, Muslim Advocates, a human rights group, said the Oversight Board “bent over backwards to excuse hate in Myanmar — a country where Facebook has been complicit in a genocide against Muslims.”
Eric Naing, a spokesperson for the group, said:
“It is clear that the Oversight Board is here to launder responsibility for [Facebook CEO Mark] Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg. Instead of taking meaningful action to curb dangerous hate speech on the platform, Facebook punted responsibility to a third-party board that used laughable technicalities to protect anti-Muslim hate content that contributes to genocide.”