A Privacy-Protected Way to Refer Cases to the Oversight Board

By Fay Johnson, Product Lead, Integrity Transparency & Oversight

Note: For future Facebook updates about Oversight Board cases, please visit the Transparency Center

In May, following a year-long consultation period, we welcomed the first 20 members of the Oversight Board

Starting today, when someone disagrees with our decision to take down a piece of content and has exhausted our existing appeals process, they can appeal their case to the Oversight Board. In order to review and hear cases, Board members will need a secure way of accessing and reviewing all the necessary information on the content in question. That is why we built a case management tool that will allow Board members to collaborate and review information from anywhere in the world.

In this post, we’re sharing some of the steps we’ve taken to ensure that people can refer decisions to the Oversight Board in a way that protects their privacy and keeps their data secure.

First, the tool will only show information to the Oversight Board that is relevant to the board’s operations, in line with the board’s purpose, and in accordance with all the necessary and relevant legal and privacy considerations outlined in the board’s foundational documents. 

Those at Facebook who will review information within the case management tool will be a small group of employees responsible for supporting the board’s proceedings. Board members can use the case management tool to take notes, deliberate, vote and write decisions in an efficient manner while keeping data secure within the tool.

Finally, when case decisions are made public by the board, information which could easily identify an individual will only be published with the impacted individual’s consent. Without this consent, all information which could easily identify an individual will be removed before the case decision is published.

Oversight Board Case Management System graphic

What Information Will Board Members See?

The board’s charter and bylaws detail what kind of information will be shared with Board members, and how that information will be made available to them. Within the case management tool, members of the board will have access to basic information they would reasonably require to make a decision, such as:

  • The content in question, whether that’s a photo, post, video or comment;
  • Information about where the content was posted on Facebook, for example a Page, profile or group;
  • Basic information about the person who posted or reported the content, such as the name, account creation time, and profile/cover photo; 
  • The case history of the content under review, including the initial content reviewer actions, and any appeals submitted; and
  • Facebook’s reasoning on its decision and details on the policy or policies in question.

The board can also request additional information about the case from Facebook, such as details on engagement and reach of the content, how the content was reported or additional details about the relevant policy and how we enforce it that can help provide context.

Facebook will review these requests on a case-by-case basis, as detailed in the bylaws. We will only release information if it is reasonably required for the board’s review and doing so will not compromise an individual’s privacy, safety, or relevant data protection restrictions.

Will You Know That Your Content Might be Reviewed by the Oversight Board?

There are two ways content can be brought to the board for review. The first — and likely to be the most frequent — is through people on Facebook who disagree with Facebook’s decision and have gone through Facebook’s appeals process. These are called User Generated Appeals.

The second way is through Facebook itself— Facebook can refer “significant and difficult” cases directly to the board. If Facebook refers a case to the board, the person who posted the content will be notified and given an opportunity to provide more context on why they posted the content in the first place. If the board selects the case for review, this context will help inform the board’s deliberation and decision. These cases are called Facebook Referred Cases. 

We will notify a user that the content they posted is being sent to the board.

How Will You Know the Status of Your Case?

People who submit a case for review by the board, or whose content is being reviewed as part of a Facebook Referred Case, will be able to track the status of their case by logging into the Oversight Board website with their Facebook or Instagram credentials. Case decisions will be posted here on the Oversight Board’s website, and updates about Facebook’s actions on a case can be found here on Facebook’s website.

Will Information About Facebook Users Be Included in the Board’s Public Decisions?

If the board chooses to hear a case, information which could easily identify the individual will only be included in the public case decision with the individual’s consent, otherwise it will be removed before the case decision is published.

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