EFF Intern Reema Moussa authored this post.

EFF recently submitted comments in partnership with the European Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ECNL) in response to the Oversight Board’s request for input on the moderation of the Arabic word “shaheed.” The Oversight Board was created by Meta in 2020 as an appellate body and has 27 members from around the world who review contested content moderation decisions made by the platform. The Board opened public comment on the term after accepting Meta’s request for a policy advisory opinion on its approach to moderating the term “when used to refer to individuals it classifies as dangerous, including terrorists.”

EFF and ECNL’s comments address the over-moderation of the word and other Arabic-language content, particularly through the use of automated content moderation tools. The comments also highlight the practical difficulties of moderating the term, and content written in the Arabic language generally speaking due to the complexities of translating high-context languages like Arabic.

Additionally, the comments highlight that refraining from using automated content moderation tools for content removal with the word “shaheed” is “imperative for ensuring the free expression of Arabic-speaking users.”

The Board proposed three recommendations to address moderation of the term, which is among the most often removed/moderated terms on the platform. EFF and ECNL’s comments advocate for the adoption of Recommendation 2: “the removal of content using “shaheed” to refer to individuals designated as dangerous under Meta’s policies only where there is praise, support, or a signal of violence.”

Read the comments in the PDF below.