keyboard warriors

Meta Oversight Board to review post alleging all Israelis are ‘criminals’

The entity that reviews Facebook, Instagram and Threads posts, considering recommending changes to Meta’s hate speech policies

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As social media companies struggle to strike a balance between hate speech and free expression on their platforms, Meta’s Oversight Board announced on Tuesday that it would review three recent posts — including one, tied to the war in Gaza, calling all Israelis criminals — that the board previously removed. The board, an independent entity that reviews Facebook, Instagram and Threads posts, also said it would consider recommending changes to Meta’s hate speech policies.

In January, a Threads user, replying to a video on the Israel-Hamas war, posted, “All Israelis are criminals” as well as the text “genocide.” In a December incident, a Facebook user wrote in Arabic referring to Russians and Americans as “criminals.” In March, an Instagram user commented on a post, “All Indians are rapists.” In all three cases, Meta removed the content after it was flagged by the automated system. 

The board said on Tuesday it is considering whether Meta “should moderate allegations of criminality based on nationality.” The board is asking for the public to offer perspectives on the impact of Meta’s policies on the ability of users to speak out against governmental actions and the effect of posts calling an entire group of people “criminals.” The board also is seeking suggestions for criteria to distinguish between attacks on a group of people and attacks on institutions.

The Israel-Hamas war also came into focus for Meta last December, when the social media powerhouse issued two decisions, each a response to users’ appeals after posts were removed for violating Meta policies limiting the sharing of videos depicting terrorism or violent content. The decisions revealed that after Oct. 7, Meta, in response to what it described as “an exceptional surge in violent and graphic content,” lowered the bar for when it would automatically remove content that might violate the platforms’ standards on hate speech, violence, incitement and harassment. But the Oversight Board determined that the change resulted in the preemptive removal of content that users should have been allowed to post. 

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