Meta Accepts Key Oversight Board Recommendations to End Blanket Ban on “Shaheed” 

The Oversight Board welcomes Meta’s announcement today that it will implement the Board’s recommendations and introduce significant changes to an unfair policy that led to the censoring of millions of people across its platforms.  

The policy changes on how to moderate the Arabic word “shaheed” should have a swift impact on when content is removed, with a more nuanced approach ending a blanket ban on a term that Meta has acknowledged is one of the most over-enforced on its platforms.  

After an extensive Oversight Board review, which considered concerns that the policy may be contributing to censorship of those commenting on situations like the violence seen in conflict, including in Gaza and Sudan, the Board’s proposals showed that even in times of crisis, a more suitable and balanced approach was possible. 

Board Member Paolo Carozza said:  

“The Board welcomes Meta’s commitment to end what has effectively been a blanket ban on use of the term “shaheed” when referring to designated dangerous organizations and individuals (DOI).  

“This change may not be easy, but it is the right thing to do and an important step to take. By vowing to adopt a more nuanced approach that will better protect freedom of expression, while also ensuring the most harmful material is still removed, Meta is stepping up.  

“By referring this issue to the Board, and acting on our recommendations, the company shows it is willing to learn, to make hard choices and to invest in making its platforms not only safer but also freer for all, including those living in contexts where censorship is already rife.  

“But promising to enact fairer policies is only the first step. The Oversight Board will now work to hold the company to account by monitoring its progress, providing updates in our transparency reporting and continuing to push for greater access for researchers across the world.


The word “shaheed” is commonly translated into English as “martyr,” and as such has long been immediately removed by Meta when considered to be referring to entities named in the Dangerous Organizations and Individuals (DOI) policy. However, it has multiple meanings, many of which are not intended to glorify or convey approval of violence.  

Until now, no exceptions were allowed for reporting on, neutrally discussing or condemning this term. This led to millions of users, especially from Arabic-speaking and Muslim communities, having content unfairly taken down.  

Earlier this year, the Board advised Meta to stop presuming such content is always violating and to more clearly specify those contexts in which references to designated DOI individuals as “shaheed” are not allowed, for example when they are accompanied by signals of violence.  

In its response to the Board, Meta has committed to fully implement five out of the Board’s seven recommendations, and to partially implement the remaining two. While the Board welcomes Meta’s commitment to fully implement most of its recommendations, it hopes that in due course the company will become more transparent about the procedure by which dangerous individuals, organizations and events are designated, as well as the methods it uses to assess enforcement accuracy – in line with the recommendations it decided to partially accept. 

Meta’s announcement is available on its Transparency Centre.  

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