Meta’s independent Oversight Board said on Thursday that it has taken a fresh case for consideration on a video depicting sexual assault in Bharat, asking public to share their comments on whether Meta’s policies and enforcement practices protect users from harmful content.
In March 2022, an Instagram account, describing itself as a platform for Dalit perspectives, posted a video from Bharat showing a woman being assaulted by a group of men.
The text accompanying the video states that a “tribal woman” was sexually assaulted and harassed by a group of men in public, and that the video went viral.
The account has around 30,000 followers, mostly located in Bharat.
“The content was reported by another Instagram user for sexual solicitation and sent for human review. Human reviewers determined that the content violated Meta’s Adult Sexual Exploitation policy,” said the Board.
Following additional human review, Meta issued a newsworthiness allowance, restored the content, and placed a warning screen on the video alerting users it may contain violent or graphic content.
A newsworthiness allowance permits content on Meta’s platforms that might otherwise violate its policies where the content is newsworthy and keeping it visible is in the public interest. It can only be applied by specialist teams within Meta, and not by human reviewers who review content at scale.
Meta has referred this case to the Board, stating that it demonstrates the challenge in striking “the appropriate balance between allowing content that condemns sexual exploitation and the harm in allowing visual depictions of sexual harassment to remain on (its) platforms.”
It said it has only allowed such content “in limited circumstances, upon escalation, and on a case-by-case basis.”
The board will now decide on the role of social media in raising awareness of and condemning sexual exploitation and other harmful acts against people from marginalised communities in Bharat.
In its decisions, the Board can issue policy recommendations to Meta. While recommendations are not binding, Meta must respond to them within 60 days.
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