According to the Board’s first annual report, more than a million appeals were filed with the Facebook Oversight Board, commonly known as the “Facebook Supreme Court,” by Facebook and Instagram users wanting to overturn censorship.
Last week, a study was published in which the amount of censorship on the platform was exposed. The Board recognized that the million-plus number represented an “unprecedented pent-up demand” for users to be able to appeal to social media platforms’ censorship decisions.
The Board added: “The number of cases submitted demonstrates how important the Board’s work to users is.”
According to the Board, over eight in ten of the appeals concerned Facebook or Instagram’s policies about “Hate speech, bullying, or violence and incitement.”
The final tally was as follows:
- Bullying and harassment – 32.6%
- Hate speech – 28.9%
- Incitement and violence – 22.8 percent
- Sexual activity and adult nudity – 7.2 percent
- Individuals and groups who are dangerous – 4.1 percent
- Other – 4.4%
The most common grounds of appeal were postings on Facebook, with Instagram users filing just one percent of the cases.
The report, which may be read in its entirety here, states that the Board receives an average of 2,649 appeals per day, with around two-thirds coming from the United States, Canada, and Europe. Almost half (49.4 percent) came from just the United States and Canada.
The majority of those who believe they are being unjustifiably banned from Facebook and Instagram, therefore, reside in the so-called free Western world.
The Board observed the bias toward Western nations in its analysis:
“We understand that the distribution of Facebook and Instagram users does not represent the global spread of this audience. In 2019, for example, only 6 of the 20 nations with the greatest number of Facebook users were in North America and Europe, whereas India had by far the most Facebook and Instagram users. The lower rates of user appeals was from outside of Europe and North America suggesting that many people that use Facebook and Instagram elsewhere in the world are unaware they have a right to appeal to the board on Meta’s moderation of content decisions.”
The Oversight Board was established in 2020 as a semi-independent body with the authority to review appeals from Facebook and Instagram users and reverse content moderation decisions. Conservatives on both sides of the pond condemned the Board because of its biased composition, which consisted largely of liberals from the liberal left.