Oversight Board’s First New Case From Threads Involves Japanese Prime Minister

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

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:

Statements About the Japanese Prime Minister


User Appeal to Restore Content to Threads

Submit a public comment using the button below.

To read this announcement in Japanese, click here.


In January 2024, a user replied to a Threads post containing a screenshot of a news article in Japanese. The article includes a statement by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida about unreported fundraising revenues involving members of his faction of the Liberal Democratic Party. In the statement, Kishida said the amount “remained intact and was not a slush fund.” The Threads post includes an image of Prime Minister Kishida and a caption criticizing him for tax evasion. The user’s response, also in Japanese, calls for an explanation to be given to Japan’s legislative body. It includes several hashtags using the phrase “drop dead” to refer to the Prime Minister as a tax evader as well as derogatory language for a person that wears spectacles. In January, Prime Minister Kishida made a parliamentary statement addressing his party’s alleged underreporting of this revenue. Criminal charges have since been brought against several of the Japanese lawmakers involved, although not the Prime Minister.

The user’s reply to the Threads post did not receive any likes or responses. It was reported once under the Bullying and Harassment Community Standard, which prohibits content targeting anyone (including public figures) with “calls for death.” A human reviewer determined that the content violated Meta’s Violence and Incitement rule instead that also prohibits calls for death. Meta’s internal guidance to reviewers under the Violence and Incitement policy states that the specific phrase “death to” should be interpreted as such a call when used about high-risk people such as a Head of State. Meta explained that the user’s hashtags contained calls for death, which the reviewer likely interpreted as being aimed at Prime Minister Kishida, and thus removed the content. The user then appealed to Meta, but a second human reviewer also found the content violating. Finally, the user appealed to the Board, explaining that Meta’s removal of their post, about alleged illegal activities by a public figure, interfered with their freedom of speech. As a result of the Board selecting this case, Meta determined that its original decision to remove the content was in error. Meta noted the content contained rhetorical language that did not amount to a threat that would violate its Violence and Incitement policy, and restored the post on Threads.

The Board selected this case to examine Meta’s content moderation policies and enforcement practices on political content shared on Threads. This is particularly important, in the context of Meta’s decision not to proactively recommend political content on Threads. This case falls within the Board’s Elections and Civic Space strategic priority.

The Board would appreciate public comments that address:

  • The sociopolitical context in Japan, including information about online threats of violence against politicians, and limitations on freedom of expression that is critical of politicians.
  • The extent to which rhetorical threats or calls for violence are common in the Japanese language and political discourse more broadly, and/or how easily such threats can be distinguished from credible threats.
  • How Meta’s Bullying and Harassment and Violence and Incitement policies should protect high-risk individuals like Heads of State from credible threats of violence at-scale.
  • How Meta can ensure political expression is respected, including rhetorical threats or calls for violence.
  • How Meta’s choice not to recommend political content on Threads and Instagram newsfeeds, for pages not followed by users, affects access to information and political speech.

As part of 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 you can contribute valuable perspectives that can help with reaching a decision on the case announced today, you can submit your contributions using the button below. Please note that public comments can be provided anonymously. The public comment window is open for 14 days, closing at 23.59 your local time on Thursday 30 May.

What’s Next

Over the next few weeks, Board Members will be deliberating this case. Once they have reached their decision, we will post it on the Decisions page.

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