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American News Apr 14, 2021 3:55 AM EST

Facebook oversight board gains authority to censor content

Previously the group focused on appeals to restore content that Facebook staff decided to take down.

Facebook oversight board gains authority to censor content
Nick Monroe Cleveland, Ohio

This article was published more than 1 year ago, information might not be up to date.

Facebook's oversight board is widening their authority over the company's decision making. While the board can only recommend policy decisions, a new change broadens their reach towards that direction.

According to Reuters, users are now able to flag content the platform's usual moderation staff decide to leave up. The outlet says this change came after strong demand from "social media researchers and rights groups" that the board had a duty to address "misinformation" and other "harmful" content allowed to remain.

The board's announcement blog post made it clear that if they do rule in this kind of situation, the person who first flagged someone else's content will have their privacy respected. According to the Facebook company's remarks on this update, people who report content will get an "Oversight Board Reference ID" that they can pass along if they want to bring it to the border’s attention.

Multiple people can report the same piece of content and make their own individualized cases arguing against it being allowed. But if the oversight board does rule on it, everyone will be updated on that situation all at the same time.

The original intent of Facebook's oversight board was appealing for the restoration of content taken down by moderators. More than 300,000 user appeals have been flagged for the board’s review. The board so far has ruled on a total of seven.

Their most high-profile ruling yet to come. As the oversight board is anticipated to rule on the suspension of former President Trump that happened in the aftermath of the Capitol riot back in January. On a related note, the board only has nineteen members at the moment. They're searching for a replacement after law professor Pamela Karlan left to join the Biden administration DOJ.

Eventually the board wants to expand to forty people. In the near future, the company said the oversight board will get to review Facebook groups and pages.

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