EFF recently submitted comments in response to the Meta Oversight Board’s request for input on a Facebook post in Polish from April 2023 that targeted trans people. The Oversight Board was created by Meta in 2020 as an appellate body and has 22 members from around the world who review contested content moderation decisions made by the platform.
Our comments address how Facebook’s automated systems failed to prioritize content for human review. From our observations—and the research of many within the digital rights community—this is a common deficiency made worse during the pandemic, when Meta decreased the number of workers moderating content on its platforms. In this instance, the content was eventually sent for human review and was still assessed to be non-violating and therefore not escalated further. Facebook kept the content online despite 11 different users reporting the content 12 times and only removed the content once the Oversight Board decided to take the case for review.
As EFF has demonstrated, Meta has at times over-removed legal LGBTQ+ related content whilst simultaneously keeping content online that depicts hate speech toward the LGBTQ+ community. This is often because the content—as in this specific case—is not an explicit depiction of such hate speech, but rather a message that is embedded in a wider context that automated content moderation tools and inadequately trained human moderators are simply not equipped to consider. These tools do not have the ability to recognize nuance or the context of statements, and human reviewers are not provided the training to remove content that depicts hate speech beyond a basic slur.
This incident serves as part of the growing body of evidence that Facebook’s systems are inadequate in detecting seriously harmful content, particularly that which targets marginalized and vulnerable communities. Our submission looks at the various reasons for these shortcomings and makes the case that Facebook should have removed the content—and should keep it offline.
Read the full submission in the PDF below.