Meta oversight board to review violent Israel-Gaza war content

Cases involve videos showing aftermath of Al Shifa Hospital attack and hostage pleading for her life

Meta's oversight board said it is reviewing two pieces of content related to the Israel-Gaza war. Reuters
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Meta's oversight board on Wednesday said that it will be reviewing how it handles violent content on its platform through addressing two cases that involve the bombing of Al Shifa Hospital and hostages kidnapped by Hamas.

The cases mark the first time the independent panel will use its expedited process, in which a decision must be made within 30 days. The board said it believes the posts “could result in urgent real-world consequences”.

Meta has since lowered the threshold of its moderation systems to remove potentially harmful content, but the company has faced accusations that it unfairly stifles support for Palestine.

The oversight board said it saw a nearly three-fold increase in daily appeals marked by users related to the Middle East and North Africa since the outbreak of the conflict.

The first case under expedited review includes an Instagram video that shows the aftermath of a strike outside Al Shifa Hospital in which injured and dead children can be seen lying on the ground. An accompanying caption in Arabic and English says the hospital was attacked by the “usurping occupation” – a reference to Israel.

Meta restored the content with a warning screen after the board selected to review it.

Israel and Hamas have blamed each other for the missile that struck Al Shifa Hospital in early November.

The second case involved a Facebook video in which a woman seated on the back of a motorbike pleads with her kidnappers for her life as she is taken hostage. The caption urged people to watch the video to “gain a 'deeper understanding' of the horror that Israel woke up to on October 7, 2023”, the board said.

Meta says it initially took down the post because it violated rules on violence and incitement, and because it showed images of designated terror attacks on visible victims.

The company later reversed its decision as it responded to trends on how the kidnapping videos were shared and reported on.

In a statement, Meta said it would carry out the board's decision once it has been made in each case.

Updated: December 08, 2023, 5:33 AM