Oversight Board Selects Case on a Veiled Threat Based on Religious Beliefs

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Update on March 11, 2021 at 10:05AM PT:

When the Oversight Board issued its binding decision for this case last month, we implemented the decision and reinstated the case content. At that time the board also issued a non-binding recommendation, which we are responding to in the table below. Simultaneously we’ve started the process of reinstating identical content with parallel context in line with the board’s decision. This action will affect content previously posted on Facebook and in the future, when we review identical content with parallel context, we will action it in line with this decision.

Oversight Board detailed decision table

Update on February 18, 2021 at 12:00PM PT:

In accordance with the Oversight Board’s decision on February 12, 2021, Facebook has reinstated the case content.

Update on February 12, 2021 at 8:00AM PT:

We welcome the Oversight Board’s decision today on this case. Facebook will review the board’s decision and reinstate the content within seven days, as outlined in the bylaws. We will update this post once the content has been restored.

In accordance with the bylaws, we will also initiate a review of identical content with parallel context. If we determine that we have the technical and operational capacity to take action on that content as well, we will do so promptly. For more information, please see our Newsroom post about how we will implement the board’s decisions. We will update this post again once any further action is taken on other identical content with parallel context.

After conducting a review of the policy advisory statement provided by the board in addition to their decision, we will update this post.

Originally published on December 3, 2020 at 5:00PM PT:

Today, the Oversight Board selected a case referred by Facebook regarding a post in a Group that appears to exist for Muslims in India. The post contains a statement about a sword being taken from its scabbard if people speak against the prophet. The post also references President Emmanuel Macron of France. 

Facebook deemed this post a veiled threat, and we took it down for violating our policy on Violence and Incitement as laid out in our Community Standards.

Facebook referred this case to the Oversight Board as an example of a challenging decision about statements that may incite violence even when not explicit. It also highlights an important tension we face when addressing religious speech that could be interpreted as a threat of violence.

We will implement the board’s decision once it has finished deliberating, and we will update this post accordingly. Please see the board’s website for the decision when they issue it.

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