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Facebook’s Oversight Board Now Accepts Appeals to Remove Photos

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Facebook’s Oversight Board has announced that users can appeal content that they want to be removed from Facebook and Instagram after they have exhausted Facebook’s normal appeals process.

Facebook’s Oversight Board is an independent entity that the company set up after it became clear that Facebook as a company should not be making all of the decisions regarding speech and online safety. Facebook argues that the board was created to help answer “the most difficult questions around freedom of expression” including “what to take down, what to leave up, and why.”

The board, when fully staffed, is made up of 40 members from around the world from a “diverse set of disciplines and backgrounds.” The Oversight Board says that it is not designed to be a simple extension of Facebook’s existing content review process but is instead designed to review specialized, highly emblematic cases to determine if decisions that were made at the company level are in line with Facebook’s stated values and policies.

Up to this point, users of Facebook’s platforms have been able to appeal content to the Board which they believe should be restored, but now users can appeal content that they believe should be removed from Facebook or Instagram.

“The Board will use its independent judgment to decide what to leave up and what to take down,” the board writes in its blog post about the new option. “Our decisions will be binding on Facebook.”

After a user who believes an image should be removed from Facebook or Instagram (for various, unspecified reasons) has gone through Facebook’s appeals process but is not satisfied with the decision, the Board will be able to hear one final appeal. The process will start after Facebook sends a Reference ID after it has concluded its internal review of the request. That Reference ID can be used to appeal decisions on posts and statuses as well as photos, videos, comments, and shares.

“As content will be live on Facebook and Instagram, many people will be able to report the same piece of content,” the Board explains. “In these cases, multiple user appeals will be gathered into a single case file for the Board. As multiple users can report the same content, this means the Board may consider multiple submissions from users on a single case.”

The ability to appeal to the Oversight Board is rolling out today with the option expanding to the entire userbase of Facebook and Instagram “over the coming weeks.”

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