LANSING, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – The Oversight Board for Meta, the parent company to Facebook and Instagram, recently published its rulings on a decision about sharing revealing photos on the platforms, ruling in favor of the trans community.  

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The board’s decision comes after extensive research and review of two cases, one from 2021 and 2022 that resulted in the photos’  ban.  After consulting an independent research institute headquartered at the University of Gothenburg and using a team of more than 50 social scientists across six continents, and more than 3,200 country experts from around the world, the majority of the board decided to overturn Meta’s original decisions to remove two Instagram posts depicting transgender and non-binary people with bare chests according to the Oversight Board’s report.  The board also suggested several considerations for the social media platforms to ruminate on before future cases arise. 

  • Define clear, objective, rights-respecting criteria to govern its Adult Nudity and Sexual Activity Community Standard, so that all people are treated in a manner consistent with international human rights standards, without discrimination on the basis of sex or gender. Meta should first conduct a comprehensive human rights impact assessment on such a change, engaging diverse stakeholders, and create a plan to address any harms identified. 
  • Provide more detail in its public-facing Sexual Solicitation Community Standard on the criteria that lead to content being removed. 
  • Revise its guidance for moderators on the Sexual Solicitation Community Standard so that it more accurately reflects the public rules on the policy. This would help to reduce enforcement errors on Meta’s part.

In the past, Founder and CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, has praised the oversight board and Facebook’s commitment to taking its recommendations seriously. 

“We’re committing to implement the board’s content decisions and taking action regarding its advisory opinions on our policies. We’re committing to preserving and protecting the board’s ability to exercise its independent judgment. And we’re committing to providing the board with the information and resources it needs to make informed decisions,” Zuckerberg said in a statement

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The Oversight board considers the rules on sharing media related to female nipples unclear. 

“The restrictions and exceptions to the rules on female nipples are extensive and confusing, particularly as they apply to transgender and non-binary people. Exceptions to the policy range from protests, to scenes of childbirth, and medical and health contexts, including top surgery and breast cancer awareness,” The board said in a statement, “These exceptions are often convoluted and poorly defined. In some contexts, for example, moderators must assess the extent and nature of visible scarring to determine whether certain exceptions apply. The lack of clarity inherent in this policy creates uncertainty for users and reviewers, and makes it unworkable in practice.”

As a result in part because off the unclear guidelines, “Meta’s last Community Standards Enforcement report for Instagram (April-June 2022) disclosed that 21% of the Adult Nudity and Sexual Activity removals that were appealed led to the content being restored,” the report revealed, “The Board also received a high number of public comments concerning the mistaken removal of content under the Adult Nudity Policy.”  

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The Board requests a report on the assessment and plan six months from January 2023 in relation to the first recommendation regarding clarifying the platform’s Adult Nudity and Sexual Activity policy.