Oversight Board Selects Case About a Post in a Group Discussing the Situation in South Africa While Using Slurs

UPDATED

JAN 19, 2022

Today, the Oversight Board selected a case appealed by a Facebook user regarding a post in a public group that discusses “multi-racialism” in South Africa, arguing that poverty, homelessness, and landlessness have increased for black people in South Africa since 1994, with white people still holding and controlling the majority of wealth. The post includes a number of slurs.

Facebook took down this content for violating our policy on hate speech , as laid out in the Facebook Community Standards . We do not allow content that “describes or negatively targets people with slurs, where slurs are defined as words that are inherently offensive and used as insulting labels” on the basis of protected characteristics including race or ethnicity.

We will implement the board’s decision once it has finished deliberating, and we will update this post accordingly. Please see the board’s website for the decision when they issue it.

Case decision

We welcome the Oversight Board’s decision today on this case. The board decided to uphold Meta’s decision so we have taken no further action related to this case or the content.

After conducting a review of the recommendation provided by the board in addition to their decision, we will update this post.

Recommendations

On October 27, 2021, Meta responded to the board’s recommendation for this case. We are implementing their recommendation in part.

Recommendation 1 (implementing in part)

Notify users of the specific rule within the Hate Speech Community Standard that has been violated in the language in which they use Facebook, as recommended in case decision 2020-003-FB-UA (Armenians in Azerbaijan) and case decision 2021-002-FB-UA (Depiction of Zwarte Piet). The Board looks forward to Meta providing information that confirms implementation for English-language users and information about the timeframe for implementation for other language users.

Our commitment: In line with our continued work resulting from the board recommendation 2020-003-FB-UA-1 in the Armenians in Azerbaijan case, we are building new capabilities to provide more detailed notifications to users who violate the Hate Speech Community Standard. As we’ve previously described, people using Facebook in English now receive more specific messaging when they violate our hate speech policy. We have begun testing versions of this messaging on Facebook in Arabic, Spanish, and Portuguese, and are working to expand to Instagram as well.

Considerations: Improving the effectiveness of our user-level messaging is one of the central goals of our integrity efforts. As we described in our Q1 2021 Quarterly Update on the Oversight Board, people using Facebook in English now receive more specific messaging when they violate our hate speech policy, and we provided that specific messaging in this case. The notification explained that we don’t allow content on our platform that contains hate speech, which includes attacks on people because of their race, ethnicity, religion, caste, physical or mental ability, gender, or sexual orientation. We provided two specific examples of prohibited content: using slurs or other offensive words to insult specific groups and using language that is hateful towards specific groups.

We have begun testing more specific messaging for hate speech violations on Facebook in other languages, beginning with Arabic, Spanish, and Portuguese. We are also testing these notifications on Instagram in English, Spanish, Arabic, and Portuguese, and we expect to have results by the end of this year.

Next steps:We will track progress on this recommendation under our continued work following board recommendation 2020-003-FB-UA-1, in the Armenians in Azerbaijan case. We expect to provide a progress update in our first Quarterly Update of 2022.