Meta oversight board to review policy on Arabic word 'shaheed'

Company says it 'may be over-enforcing' when policing use of the word, which accounts for more content removals on its platforms than any other single word or phrase

Meta asked its oversight board to review how the word 'shaheed' is moderated on its platforms. Reuters
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Meta's oversight board on Thursday announced that it would review how the company moderates the word “shaheed” when it is used to describe people as dangerous.

The parent company of Facebook made the request to its oversight board on February 8, requesting guidance on how it should treat content with the word “shaheed” under its Dangerous Organisations and Individuals (DOI) policy.

Commonly translated as “martyr” in English, the word “accounts for more content removals under our Community Standards than any other single word or phrase on our platforms”, Meta wrote in its request dated February 8.

The DOI policy prohibits praise, support or representation of designated entities and persons. The company said treating “shaheed” as praise has significant consequences.

Meta said its enforcement resulted in a significant amount of violation in Arabic-speaking parts of the world and that the word is used across cultures, religions and languages.

“Because the word 'shaheed' has multiple meanings, we may be over-enforcing on significant amounts of speech not intended to praise a designated individual, particularly among Arabic speakers”, Meta said.

Meta first announced plans for the oversight board in 2018, which it said would independently deliberate over the company's moderation actions.

Updated: March 09, 2023, 4:44 PM