Oversight Board Announces Haitian Police Station Video 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:

Haitian Police Station Video


Case referred by Meta

Submit public comments here.

To read this announcement in Haitian Creole, click here.

Pou li anons sa a an Kreyòl Ayisyen, klike isit la.

In May 2023, a Facebook user posted a video with a caption in Haitian Creole. The video shows a large group of people, who are wearing civilian clothing, walking into a police station and approaching a locked cell that has a man inside. The video also shows an individual from that group attempting to break the cell’s lock. Several other people shout words of encouragement. Toward the end of the video, someone yells “bwa kale na boudaw.” Meta’s literal translation of this phrase is “stick up your ass.”

According to Meta’s interpretation when referring the case to the Board, this phrase indicated a call for the group “to take action against the person ‘bwa kale style’—in other words, to lynch him.” Meta interprets the use of the term “bwa kale” to refer to the civilian movement of the same name which involves civilians taking justice into their own hands against alleged gang members. The video is accompanied by a caption describing what happens and which also states that the police “can’t do anything.” The post was viewed over 500,000 times and the video was viewed around 200,000 times.

Meta removed the content from Facebook under its Violence and Incitement Community Standard. A trusted partner had previously flagged the video to Meta for review, warning it might incite further violence. Meta’s Trusted Partner program is a network of non-governmental organizations, humanitarian agencies, human rights defenders and researchers from 113 countries around the world. Trusted Partners can report content to Meta and provide feedback on the company’s content policies and enforcement. Meta determined the video both represented a statement of intent to commit and a call for high-severity violence, and removed it. The company’s Violence and Incitement policy prohibits “threats that could lead to death (and other forms of high severity violence),” which includes “statements of intent to commit high-severity violence” and “calls for high-severity violence.” Meta allows content that would otherwise violate this policy if it is shared to condemn high-severity violence or raise awareness of it, and this intent is clear. However, Meta found no clear intent in this case.

Meta referred the case to the Oversight Board, stating that it raises questions about how the company should treat content “by an anti-gang vigilantism movement in Haiti,” which is how it describes Bwa Kale. Meta explains that the case is significant and difficult because of the insecurity in Haiti and the impact the Bwa Kale movement ­is having on individuals. Meta also notes that its decision to remove the content relied on regional input and context.

The Board selected this case to explore Meta’s policies and practices in moderating content during the ongoing crisis in Haiti. This case falls under one of the Board’s seven strategic priorities, specifically “crisis and conflict situations.”

The Board would appreciate public comments that address:

  • How content that depicts scenes of gang or vigilante violence should be treated, and how Meta should assess whether such content could cause or contribute to offline violence.
  • Meta’s content moderation in Haitian Creole.
  • Insights into the crisis in Haiti, particularly the Bwa Kale movement and its depiction on social media.
  • Meta’s operation of the Trusted Partner program and its impact on crisis and conflict situations.

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 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 Wednesday 20 September.

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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