Facebook's Oversight Board takes up case from India

The case of a user who called for violence against French President Emmanuel Macron over a cartoon of Prophet Muhammed has been taken up.
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An independent board set up by Facebook to look into hate and other undesirable content on the platform has taken up a case from India wherein a user had called for violence against French President Emmanuel Macron over a cartoon of Prophet. In a statement on Thursday, the Oversight Board said it has selected an additional case for consideration, which had been referred by Facebook. Facebook has already removed the particular content that displayed a sword and hate messages, and now the Board will review the matter.

"In its referral, Facebook stated that it considered this case to be significant, because the content could convey a 'veiled threat' with a specific reference to an individual, President Macron. Facebook referred to heightened tensions in France at the time the user posted the content," the Board said.

Facebook has indicated that although its policies allow it to determine a potential threat of real-world violence and to balance that determination against the user's ability to express their religious beliefs, it was difficult to draw the line in this case, according to the statement.

The Board noted that the new case replaces one of the six cases that it was to review. The review of those six cases were announced on December 1.

Facebook -- which has faced flak in many parts of the world over various issues, including its handling of content and data breaches -- has set up the independent body for content moderation in a transparent manner.

The Board started functioning earlier this year, and is reviewing appeals from users on material that has been taken down from Facebook and Instagram. Facebook can also refer cases to the Board.

The Board's decisions are binding on the two social networking platforms. Instagram is owned by Facebook.

Each of the cases are assigned to five-member panels, including at least one member from the region implicated in the content. The Board expects to decide on each case, and for Facebook to have acted on this decision, within 90 days.

The body also invites the public to comment on the cases that have been taken up.

Once the Board reaches a decision on these cases, Facebook will be required to implement the decisions as well as publicly respond to any additional policy recommendations that it makes.

In May, the Board announced the names of 20 members, including Sudhir Krishnaswamy, Vice Chancellor of the National Law School of India University.

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