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Meta’s Oversight Board says Israel-Hamas videos should not have been removed

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Meta’s Oversight Board has said that it should not have removed two videos depicting hostages and injured people in the Israel-Hamas conflict, stating that such content is important to portray the extent of human suffering in the war.

The social media giant, owner of Facebook and Instagram, is coming under close scrutiny as are other platforms at this time due to concerns over misinformation and accusations of biased coverage. Content moderation is a very contentious issue, especially given this subject, with the reach of social media and the number of people who use the apps daily.

As reported by Reuters, This case is thought to be the first time the Oversight Board has examined cases with priority after the independent body pledged earlier this year to commit to a faster review process of disputed content on Facebook and Instagram.

One of the videos was removed from the latter platform, which showed the aftermath of an airstrike near Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza with children who appeared to be dead or injured. The other concerned Hamas’ attack on Israel on 7 October, with the video showing an Israeli woman begging for her life as she was taken hostage.

The Oversight Board cited both content takedowns for review and subsequently, Meta reversed its decision to censor the content and restored the videos with a warning screen before they can be viewed.

Meta’s decision to restrict the content and not recommend it to other users was not approved or enforced by the Board. Conversely, it issued a statement urging the social media giant to “respond more quickly to changing circumstances on the ground, which affect the balance between the values of voice and safety.”

In this example, we can see how the real-life situation of the horrific conflict in the Middle East conflates with online moderation and the responsibility that the social media platforms have to carry.


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