Oversight Board Selects Case Regarding a Call for the Donation of Pharmaceutical Drugs to Sri Lanka


MAR 13, 2023

Today, the Oversight Board selected a case, which was referred by Meta, about Meta’s decision to leave up a post on the Facebook page of a medical organization in Sri Lanka. The post states that people could donate pharmaceutical drugs and other medical goods to the country, and provides a link for them to do so. At the time it was posted, Sri Lanka was in the midst of a financial crisis, limiting its ability to import pharmaceutical drugs. There were reports of local hospitals running out of medical supplies, including drugs.

Meta usually takes down content that “attempts to donate or gift pharmaceutical drugs” for violating our policy on Restricted Goods and Services, as laid out in the Facebook Community Standards.

However, in this instance, Meta made an exception to leave up the content. These exceptions are used when strict application produces results that are inconsistent with a policy’s objectives. In this case, the exception was both temporary and limited to the Sri Lankan situation. Meta usually takes down this type of content for safety reasons, however, due to the context surrounding this case, doing so could lead to preventable deaths due to a lack of medical drugs.

Meta referred this case to the board because we found it significant and difficult as it creates tension between our values of safety and voice.

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 upheld Meta's decision to leave the content up so we will take no further action related to this case or the content.

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