You Can Ask For Harmful Content To Be Removed From Facebook and Instagram

The content eligible for review includes posts, status updates, photos, videos, comments, and shares.


The Oversight Board, which advocates or respect for free expression, through independent judgement, has announced that it will start accepting cases from Facebook and Instagram users who believe that the tech corporation wrongfully allowed harmful content to remain on its sites.

The development has been under assessment for some time, having been sought by advocates of independent content moderation. The capability also marks an important step toward delivering a more principled and transparent model for content moderation.

The decision made it through the Oversight Board’s independent judgement, and is binding on the social media giants.

The Board adds that since Q4 2020, users have been able to appeal to it about their own content being removed.

Moreover, the Board’s most recent decision was issued to Facebook today (April 13), on a case from Holland, where the platform removed a video showing a child meeting adults with their faces painted black, with attire to showcase ‘Zwarte Piet’ also known as Black Pete.

The Board says that it upheld Facebook’s decision after it was determined that there was sufficient evidence of harm to justify the removal.

“They argued the content included caricatures which are linked to racist stereotypes and are considered by parts of Dutch society to sustain systemic racism in the Netherlands,” reads a report from the Oversight Board.

Since the Board became operational, Facebook has worked to design, build and test the technical functionality to enable people to appeal to remove content posted by a third-party, whilst ensuring their privacy is protected. 

Therefore, starting today with an expanding roll out over the coming weeks, after an individual has exhausted Facebook’s appeals process, they will receive an Oversight Board Reference ID and can formally appeal for independent review.  

The content eligible for review includes posts, status updates, photos, videos, comments, and shares.  As content will be live on Facebook and Instagram, many people may report the same piece of content. In these cases, multiple user appeals will be gathered into a single case file for the Board, providing greater context of the impact of the content. 

As with appeals on content that users want restored to Facebook, users may appeal to the Oversight Board once they have exhausted the appeals process with the company. 


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.

The Oversight Board

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Kenn Abuya is a friend of technology, with bias in enterprise and mobile tech. Share your thoughts, tips and hate mail at [email protected]