Meta Made Wrong Censorship Call Says Oversight Board

The board of directors for Meta has concluded that the social media platform made a mistake when it removed two videos showing casualties of the Israel-Gaza conflict.

When the oversight board began looking into the matter, Meta had already restored the videos, which helped comprehend the human suffering on both sides. Despite their disagreement with Meta’s decision to remove the films from user recommendations, the board did accept the action to restore the material. It suggested that, to avoid the risk of deleting “useful content,” the corporation should err on the side of green-lighting the videos in question rather than algorithmically eliminating them.

The dispute over the films marks a first: the oversight board has never conducted rapid case reviews before. The content moderation policies of social media platforms have been under increased criticism since the 7th of October when Hamas attacked Israel. This is because there has been a rise in disinformation and charges that these platforms have punished pro-Palestinian messages. According to the board, the number of appeals to remove material has increased by around three in the North African and Middle Eastern regions.

At the height of the censorship wave that started on October 7, 2023, when hostilities broke out between Israeli troops and Palestinian armed groups, Meta’s rules and practices were stifling Instagram and Facebook voices that supported Palestine and Palestinian human rights. Over 1,050 posts by Palestinians and their supporters were removed or otherwise suppressed from Instagram and Facebook in October and November 2023, according to Human Rights Watch.

Censorship of Palestinian-related information on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook is widespread and systematic, according to Human Rights Watch. Mistakenly, Meta removed material about Palestine because it was inconsistent in executing its regulations. Although this seems to be the most extensive wave of material removal pertaining to Palestine so far, it is worth noting that Meta, the parent company of Instagram and Facebook, has a proven history of excessively removing information related to Palestine.