Oversight Board: Further asked questions

UPDATED

JUN 11, 2021

The board’s decisions and recommendations

Are the Oversight Board’s content decisions binding?

Yes. Content decisions from the board are binding. Facebook will restore or remove content on the Facebook app or Instagram based on the board’s determination.

Are the Oversight Board’s recommendations binding?

Unlike the board’s content decisions on individual cases, recommendations are not binding. Facebook is committed to both considering these recommendations as important input on our internal policy processes and publicly responding to each recommendation within 30 days.

What will you do about content that’s the same or similar to content the Oversight Board has ruled on?

When feasible, Facebook will implement the board’s decision across content that’s identical and has a parallel context that remains on Facebook.

Can Facebook ask the Oversight Board for policy recommendations?

Yes. One way that cases can get to the board is if Facebook requests a policy advisory opinion. That allows Facebook to seek input on policies that have repeatedly proven significant in their impact and/or difficult in the way they’re applied on the Facebook app and Instagram.

The board can also provide a policy advisory statement for any case they hear. We would consider these statements through our policy development process.

What types of cases has the Oversight Board heard?

The board has heard a number of significant and difficult content cases that touch on topics such as protests, nudity and religious expression and violence. These cases have invoked a number of tough decisions around competing values. This includes the rights people have to express themselves politically or religiously and the potential for some expression to lead to imminent, offline harm.

You can read more about cases that the board has selected to hear at our newsroom.

Where can you see all the cases the Oversight Board has heard?

Our case page includes a table of cases that is easily searchable.

How appeals and referrals work

How do you appeal a case to the Oversight Board?

If you disagree with a decision Facebook has made on content on the Facebook app or Instagram, and you’ve exhausted your appeals on either platform, you may appeal the decision to the Oversight Board. You’ll be issued an Oversight Board Reference ID in your Support Inbox on Facebook or Support Requests on Instagram. You can take this Reference ID to the Oversight Board website to submit your case for review by the board.

What’s in scope to be appealed to the Oversight Board?

You can appeal content you posted on the Facebook app or Instagram that has been taken down and content from another person left up on Facebook or Instagram. The types of content that are eligible for review by the board include posts/statuses, photos, videos, comments and shares. Groups, pages, events, and ads will be within the scope of the board to review in the future.

What are Facebook’s criteria for referring cases to the Oversight Board?

Facebook will directly refer cases to the board that are significant and difficult, as stated in the bylaws:

  • Significant means the content involves real-world impact and issues that are severe, large-scale and/or important for public discourse.

  • Difficult means the content raises questions about current policies or their enforcement, with strong arguments on both sides for either removing or leaving up the content under review. The board has sole discretion to accept or reject cases that are referred through this process.

Some examples include the line between raising awareness and hate speech and the spread of graphic content after a tragic event of public interest.

How often do you refer cases to the Oversight Board?

We’re regularly referring our own docket of cases to the board that we see as significant and difficult.

Why do you have to appeal to Facebook before appealing to the Oversight Board?

The board was established to hear the most significant and difficult cases at Facebook. Initially appealing to Facebook helps to guarantee the cases that make their way to the board have been checked multiple times and, therefore, represent some of the trickier and more consequential content decisions Facebook has made.

Why does the Oversight Board take so long to make a decision on a case?

The Oversight Board was designed to be a deliberative and thoughtful body that can diligently and comprehensively make some of the most difficult content decisions with input from experts. While Facebook will continue to make initial decisions on millions of pieces of content every day, the feedback we received from our consultation recommended that the board should be set up to deliberate and act as a check on Facebook's content decisions.

The board’s relationship to Facebook

Aren't you just passing on the responsibility for these decisions with the creation of the Oversight Board?

No. Facebook makes the initial decision on all cases that are sent to the board, and we stand by them. As Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg shared in his blueprint for a new system of content governance and enforcement, “Facebook should not make so many important decisions about free expression and safety on our own.”

We’ve created and empowered a new group to exercise independent judgment over some of the most difficult and significant content decisions. That way, Facebook alone in making consequential decisions about speech, safety and dignity.

Who guarantees the Oversight Board's ultimate decision-making power? Could Facebook not ultimately overrule the board?

As Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained in 2019, we’ve publicly committed ourselves to abide by the board’s decisions. Facebook has spent years investing time and resources into the Oversight Board because we believe an independent and binding check on decisions we make is essential.

How does the Oversight Board fit into Facebook’s relationship with regulation? Is the board just an attempt to shirk regulation?

The board is not a panacea. Facebook sees the board as an important but single piece within a wider content moderation regime, which includes updated internet regulations.

In March 2019, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called for governments to work with online platforms to create and adopt new regulation for online content, noting, “It’s impossible to remove all harmful content from the Internet, but when people use dozens of different sharing services—all with their own policies and processes—we need a more standardized approach.” We followed that call with a content moderation white paper in February 2021.

How are board members selected?

Facebook selected the co-chairs, and in coordination with the co-chairs, selected the first 16 members. The group comes from a diverse set of professions and backgrounds to ensure a global perspective. Facebook and the Oversight Board will jointly select the next 20 members, after which, the Oversight Board is responsible for member selection, independent of Facebook. Anyone can recommend new board members.