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Facebook panel to review requests to remove ‘harmful’ content

Facebook’s independent Oversight Board announced Tuesday it would start accepting requests to remove “harmful content” that users believe has been wrongly allowed to remain on the leading social network.

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The move broadens the mandate of the so-called “supreme court” of Facebook, which up to now had been tasked with reviewing instances of whether content was improperly taken down from Facebook or Instagram.

The Oversight Board, set up by Facebook to deal with contentious questions of content moderation, began operating last year and issued its first rulings in January. The decisions, which can overrule Facebook management, are binding.

“Enabling users to appeal content they want to see removed from Facebook is a significant expansion of the Oversight Board’s capabilities,” said Thomas Hughes, director of the Oversight Board administration.

“The Board was created to ensure that fewer decisions about highly significant content issues be taken by Facebook alone, and that better decisions can be delivered through an independent and transparent process that works to safeguard human rights and freedom of expression. Today’s announcement is another step towards realizing this.”

Users who feel that harmful posts, photos, videos, comments, and shares remain online will be able to appeal to the panel to have it removed.

“We expect everyone on Facebook and Instagram to be able to appeal content left up over the coming weeks,” said Guy Rosen, head of integrity at Facebook.

“We’re glad the Oversight Board is expanding their scope and impact, and look forward to their future decisions and recommendations.”

The board will set up a process including privacy protections for users seeking takedown requests.

Members of the oversight board come from various countries and include jurists, human rights activists, journalists, a Nobel peace laureate and a former Danish prime minister.

The board is reviewing tens of thousands of cases, including Facebook’s decision banning former US president Donald Trump.

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