Facebook review board in first action overturns four content-removal rulings

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Washington (AFP)

Facebook's new oversight board said Thursday in its first rulings that in four of five cases it had considered, the company was wrong to remove controversial posts from the platform.

These did not include Donald Trump's indefinite suspension from Facebook and Instagram after the storming of the US Capitol, but the board said last week it agreed to consider that case.

The Oversight Board said it was overturning the platform's ruling in four of the five cases it looked at and ordering that the disputed content be restored to Facebook.

These four included, for example, a post that asserted that France lacked a health care strategy and included claims that a cure for Covid-19 exists.

This post was initially removed on grounds that it contributed to "risk of imminent ... physical harm." But the review board said Facebook's rule on misinformation and imminent harm was "inappropriately vague."

The board said that since it started accepting cases in October of last year, more than 150,000 cases have been appealed to the panel.

"As we cannot hear every appeal, we are prioritising cases that have the potential to affect lots of users around the world, are of critical importance to public discourse or raise important questions about Facebook’s policies," the board said in a statement.