Announcing the Board’s Next Case

Today, in addition to publishing our decision on case 2021-005-FB-UA, the Board is announcing a new case for consideration.

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 Facebook's policies.

The case we are announcing today is:


User appeal to restore content to Facebook

Submit public comment here.

In early 2021, a Facebook user in Myanmar posted a text in Burmese on the platform. According to the translation Facebook provided to the Board, the post criticizes the current situation in Myanmar following the 2021 military coup d’état and suggests ways to limit financing to the military. It proposes that the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH), a group of legislators opposed to the coup, announce that there be no legal guarantees for companies that do business with the military and that legal consequences for these companies be explored. The post proposes that tax revenue be given to the CRPH. It also suggests that individuals have access to foreign online banking and cites Hong Kong as an example. Facebook’s translation included several terms referring to “China” or “Chinese,” possibly with profanity (Facebook identified “$တရုတ်” as the phrase that violated its policy). The post received about 500,000 views and was shared about 6,000 times.

Facebook removed the post under its Hate Speech policy after it was reported by an “Administrative Action Bot.” No Facebook users reported the post. Under its Hate Speech Community Standard, Facebook takes down content targeting a person or group of people on the basis of their race, ethnicity and/or national origin with “profane terms or phrases with the intent to insult, including but not limited to: fuck, bitch, motherfucker.”

The user submitted their appeal in English to the Oversight Board on April 16, 2021. The user stated in their appeal that they posted this content to “stop the brutal military regime” and restore democracy in Myanmar. The user also reiterated their position against the Myanmar military regime’s funding and source of income. The user speculated that the Myanmar military regime’s informants reported their post and profile “as threat” and as violating Facebook’s Community Standards. The user also stated that “someone who understands Myanmar Language” should review their post.

The Board would appreciate public comments that address:

  • Whether Facebook’s decision to remove the post is consistent with the company’s Hate Speech Community Standard, specifically the rule against profane terms or phrases with the intent to insult.
  • Whether Facebook’s decision to remove the post is consistent with the company’s stated values and human rights responsibilities.
  • Information about the social and political context in Myanmar, including efforts to discourage companies from engaging financially with the Myanmar military regime and to financially support the CRPH as well as the relationship between the Myanmar military regime and China. This information would help the Board better understand the possible intent and impact of the post.
  • Trends in discourse around foreign government intervention in Myanmar and use of potentially discriminatory language in that context.
  • Information about Facebook’s potentially erroneous enforcement of Community Standards, for example on Hate Speech, to restrict political speech in Myanmar.
  • Whether Facebook users have noted changes in Facebook’s moderation and appeals in Myanmar-related posts since the 2021 coup.
  • Content moderation challenges specific to the Burmese language.

In its decisions, the Board can issue policy recommendations to Facebook. While recommendations are not binding, Facebook must respond to them within 30 days. As such, the Board 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 for this case is open for 14 days, closing at 15:00 UTC on Thursday, June 3, 2021.

What’s Next

In the coming weeks, Board Members will be deliberating this case. Once they have reached their final decision, we will post it on the Oversight Board website.

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