The Oversight Board, a quasi-independent body established by Meta, has recommended that Meta overturn two decisions made this fall to remove posts related to the Israel-Hamas war. The board asserted that the posts aimed to “inform the world about human suffering on both sides” of the conflict. In both cases, Meta eventually reinstated the posts, featuring Palestinian casualties and an Israeli hostage, with added warning screens due to violent content.
While Meta isn’t obliged to act on the board’s decisions, the board expressed disagreement with Meta’s choice to prevent the recommended sharing of these posts on Facebook and Instagram, even for content raising awareness. The board also criticized Meta’s use of automated tools, stating that it increased the risk of removing valuable posts that shed light on the conflict and potential human rights violations.
The Oversight Board, established by Meta three years ago, issued its decisions in an expedited ruling, taking 12 days instead of the usual 90. One case involved Instagram removing a video showing the aftermath of a strike near Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, while the other featured a Facebook video of an Israeli woman, Noa Argamani, pleading with her kidnappers during the Hamas massacre on October 7.
Meta welcomed the board’s decision, stating that it values both expression and safety. The company had temporarily adjusted automated content removal thresholds, a move criticized by the board for potentially removing non-violating content.
The Oversight Board’s decisions are binding, but broader policy findings are advisory, and Meta is not obligated to follow them. The board emphasized the importance of protecting the freedom of expression while ensuring that testimonies do not incite violence or hatred. Meta is not the only social media platform under scrutiny for content related to the Israel-Hamas war, as TikTok has also faced criticism, and the European Union announced an investigation into X (formerly Twitter) for handling content post-October 7.