Oversight Board Announces “Call for Women’s Protest in Cuba” Case

Today, the Board is announcing a new case for consideration. As part of this, we are inviting people and organizations to submit public comments.

Case Selection

As we cannot hear every appeal, the Board prioritizes cases that have the potential to affect lots of users around the world, are of critical importance to public discourse, or raise important questions about Meta's policies.

The case that we are announcing today is:

Call for women’s protest in Cuba


User appeal to restore content to Instagram

Submit public comments here.

In July 2022, an Instagram account describing itself as a news platform critical of the government in Cuba posted a video of a woman urging other women to protest. A caption in Spanish includes quotes from the video, and hashtags that refer to the “regime” and “dictatorship” in Cuba. Text overlaying the video connects political change to women’s protests. At one point, the woman says that men in Cuba cannot be counted on because they are “rats.” At another point, she says that men in Cuba are “mares” carrying human waste. The video was played over 90,000 times, was shared fewer than 1,000 times, and was not reported by any users.

The content was posted around the one-year anniversary of nationwide protests against restrictions on fundamental freedoms, the Cuban government’s COVID-19 response, and economic difficulties. Additionally, the post came days after an Afro-Cuban teenager was killed in an incident involving the police. Parts of this incident were documented on social media, and the woman speaking in the video in this case appears to reference the incident when she says, “we cannot keep allowing the killing of our children.”

Seven days after posting, a hostile speech classifier identified the content as potentially violating Meta’s policies and sent it for human review. The following day, a moderator reviewed the content and found the post to violate the Hate Speech Community Standard. Tier 1 of this policy prohibits “content targeting a person or group of people … on the basis of their aforementioned protected characteristic(s)” with “dehumanizing speech or imagery in the form of comparisons . . . to or about . . . animals in general or specific types of animals that are culturally perceived as intellectually or physically inferior.” The content was then escalated for secondary review. Two additional moderators reviewed the content and determined it violated the Hate Speech Community Standard. Meta then removed the content from Instagram on February 24, 2023, more than seven months after it was initially flagged by the company’s automated systems. The delay in the review was caused by a backlog in Meta’s Early Response Secondary Review program under the cross-check system. This system provides additional layers of human review, while keeping content online, for certain posts initially identified as violating Meta’s policies. As part of the Board’s cross-check PAO, Meta disclosed that the cross-check program has operated with a backlog of content which delays decisions. In response to the Board’s recommendations around cross-check, Meta announced that “teams within Global Operations (GO) collaborated to eliminate our backlogs in cross-check reviews.”

On the same day the content was removed, the content creator appealed Meta’s decision. The content was again reviewed by a moderator, who upheld the original decision to remove the content on February 26, 2023. The content was not escalated to policy or subject matter experts for additional review at this time.

The content creator appealed the removal decision to the Board. In their statement to the Board, they highlighted the video’s references to the July 2021 protests and suggested that the woman was “ask[ing] Cuban men to do something to solve the socio-economic crisis.” They also advocated for social media platforms to “better understand the critical situation in Cuba.”

The Board selected this case to better understand how Meta’s policies and moderation practices impact calls for protest in political contexts characterized by restricted civic space. This case falls within the Board’s “Elections and civic space” priority.

As the result of the Board bringing this case to Meta’s attention, policy [and] subject matter experts at the company reviewed the content. Meta determined that its original decision to remove the content was correct.

The Board would appreciate public comments that address:

  • Meta’s moderation of content relating to anti-government protests in Cuba and elsewhere, as well as observed impacts of content moderation on political discourse in Cuba since July 2021, in particular.
  • Meta’s approach to violations of its Hate Speech policy that occur within the context of calls for protest against governments.
  • How Meta should treat content from disadvantaged groups that targets advantaged groups.
  • The political and human rights situation in Cuba, particularly as it relates to constraints on freedom of expression, including internet censorship and interruptions to social media access.

In its decisions, the Board can issue policy recommendations to Meta. While recommendations are not binding, Meta must respond to them within 60 days. As such, the Board also welcomes public comments proposing recommendations that are relevant to this case.

Public Comments

If you or your organization feel that you can contribute valuable perspectives that can help with reaching a decision on the case announced today, you can submit your contributions using the link above. The public comment window is open for 14 days, closing at 23:59 your local time on Thursday 20 July.

What's Next

Over the next few weeks, Board members will be deliberating this case. Once they have reached their final decision, we will post it on the Oversight Board website. To receive updates when the Board announces new cases or publishes decisions, sign up here.

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