Announcement of case: 2021-009-FB-UA
Today the Board is announcing a new case for consideration.
Case selectionCase selection
As we cannot hear every appeal, the Board prioritizes 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 case we are announcing today is:
User appeal to restore content to Facebook
Submit public comment here.
In May 2021 a Facebook user in Egypt shared a post by a verified Al Jazeera news page about the escalating violence in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories of Gaza and the West Bank. The Al Jazeera post consists of text in Arabic and a photo. The text states: “‘He Who Warns is Excused’. Al-Qassam Brigades military spokesman threatens the occupation forces if they do not withdraw from Al-Aqsa Mosque.” The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades are the military wing of Hamas and have been designated as a terrorist group by multiple states, either individually or as part of Hamas.
The photo shows two people in camouflage fatigues with their faces covered standing in front of a row of microphones and wearing headbands featuring Al-Qassam's insignia. Superimposed over the photo is an Arabic language statement in quotation marks attributed to a spokesperson for the Al-Qassam Brigades.
Translated into English, the statement on the photo reads: “The resistance leadership in the common room [الغرفة المشتركة] gives the occupation a respite until 6pm to withdraw its soldiers from Al-Aqsa Mosque and Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, otherwise he who warns is excused. Abu Obeida - al-Qassam Brigades military spokesman.” The Board notes that Al Jazeera’s post (which the user shared) is currently available on Facebook.
Facebook initially removed the user’s post for violating its Dangerous Individuals and Organizations Community Standard. In their appeal the user stated that they had shared the post to update people on the developing crisis and that it was an important issue that more people should be aware of. The user also noted that their post simply shared content from an Al Jazeera page.
After the Board asked Facebook to confirm the eligibility of this post for Board review, Facebook identified the removal of this post as an enforcement error and restored the content. The Board chose to proceed with reviewing this case as it continues to raise important questions about Facebook’s policies and enforcement practices.
The Board would appreciate public comments that address:
- Whether Facebook’s decision to remove this content was consistent with its Community Standard on Dangerous Individuals and Organizations, specifically the rule against praising, supporting, or representing dangerous individuals and organizations.
- Whether Facebook's decision to remove the post was consistent with the company's stated values and human rights commitments, including on freedom of expression.
- How Facebook should moderate content in contexts where designated individuals or organizations appear in and engage with news reporting, play a significant role in public life, or assume responsibilities ordinarily carried out by state actors.
- The state of media freedom in the region and how this relates to the use of Facebook and Instagram to share and discuss current events, and how Facebook's content policies and their enforcement affect the free flow of information.
- How Facebook’s policies affect the ability to share information related to the recent escalation of violence in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
- Whether Facebook’s content policies and their enforcement may have led to the censoring of vulnerable or under-represented voices in the region.
In its decisions, the Board can issue policy recommendations to Facebook. While these are not binding, Facebook must respond to them within 30 days. As such, the Board welcomes public comments proposing recommendations that are relevant to this case.
Public commentsPublic comments
If you or your organization feel that you can contribute valuable perspectives that can help with reaching a decision on the case announced today, you can submit your contributions using the link above. The public comment window for this case is open for 14 days, closing at 15:00 UTC on Wednesday, July 14.
What’s nextWhat’s next
In the coming weeks, Board Members will be deliberating this case. Once they have reached their final decision, we will post it on the Oversight Board website. To receive updates when the Board announces new cases or publishes decisions, sign up here.