Meta’s Oversight Board to Expedite Reviews of Israel-Hamas War Content Takedowns
Meta’s Oversight Board has announced that it will expedite reviews of two cases dealing with content takedowns on Facebook and Instagram related to the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. This marks the first time the independent board has opted to fast-track a review, allowing for a decision in as little as instead of the typical weeks or months-long process.
The group has seen a significant surge in appeals since the start of the conflict, with “an almost three-fold increase in the daily average of appeals” related to the Middle East and North Africa. The board selected the two cases, one from Facebook and one from Instagram, because they “address important questions relating to the conflict and represent wider issues affecting Facebook and Instagram users.”
In both cases, Meta initially removed the posts but later restored them. The case originating from Instagram features a post from early November showing the aftermath of an airstrike on a yard outside Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. Meta had taken down the post for violating its rules against violent content, but later restored it with a warning screen after the Oversight Board agreed to consider the case.
The case from Facebook deals with a video of Israeli hostages filmed during the October 7 attacks in Israel. Meta removed the video, citing its dangerous organization and violence and incitement policy. According to the Oversight Board, Meta later “revised its policy guidance in response to trends in how hostage kidnapping videos were being shared and reported on” following the October 7 attacks.
The Oversight Board expects to make decisions about the cases within 30 days. Meta is required to comply with the board’s decision regarding whether the appealed content should be allowed to remain on its platform. The board will also make a series of policy recommendations to the company, though Meta isn’t bound to implement those changes.
The board’s recommendations in these cases will likely be closely watched, as Meta has faced increased scrutiny for its content moderation decisions since the start of the conflict. The company attempted to dispel accusations that it had censored Instagram users for sharing posts about the conditions in Gaza. Meta later blamed some of the issues on an unspecified “bug.”
The Oversight Board has previously raised questions about the company’s handling of content related to conflicts between Israel and Hamas. Last year, an commissioned by Meta following a recommendation from the board, found discrepancies in the company’s moderation practices that violated Palestinians’ right to free expression in 2021. In response to the report, Meta said it would update several of its rules, including its Dangerous Organizations and Individuals policy.