Facebook has rightly removed a 17 second video with black peers in it. This is the opinion of the Oversight Board, a Facebook initiated supervisory board who can judge difficult moderation issues. Both sides emphasise that the board operates independently of the tech giant.
The statement is about a video shared by a Dutch user of Facebook on December 5. In it you can see a young child who meets Saint Nicholas and two Zwarte Pieten.
“Damaging racial stereotype”
In an explanatory statement, the board says that “although Zwarte Piet represents a cultural tradition shared by many Dutch people without a clear racist purpose, the use of blackface is widely seen as a damaging racial stereotype”.
Since last August, sharing stereotype versions of Zwarte Piet on Facebook and Instagram is no longer allowed. For this reason, the board believes that Facebook has made it “sufficiently clear” that content showing blackface will be removed unless it is intended to condemn it or draw attention to the negative consequences of the phenomenon.
The majority of the board saw “sufficient evidence” of damage to justify the removal of the content. It is believed that the content of the video contains caricatures that are inextricably linked to negative and racist stereotypes and which are seen by parts of Dutch society as supporting systematic racism.
The part that was against the decision states that there is not enough evidence to delete the video. This group says that Facebooks premise for giving people a voice specifically protects content that others disagree with. Blackface may be offensive, this section says, but does not always cause damage.
Earlier this year, Instagram deleted two DeccEit videos showing a black pee under the same lines. Prior to this, the main action objected to this, but the platform did not respond to that at the time.
Case President Trump
It is the seventh case on which the Supervisory Board has ruled since its start last autumn. Its the second case Facebook got right. At the moment, the Council is also looking at whether the social network has rightly removed former President Trump from the platform because of his statements about the Capitol Storming. The judgments of the Council are binding. The body may also give policy advice; Facebook is not obliged to follow them.
line with the decision on the black tape, the board has also announced that it will accept requests from users who believe that Facebook has left messages unjustly. So far, the body only spoke on content that had been deleted by Facebook or Instagram. This step increases the Councils mandate; there was a great deal of criticism in advance of the absence of this at first.
The Oversight Board was conceived by Facebook from the philosophy that the company does not want to bear the final responsibility for moderation choices. The board believes that the government should do this, through regulation. In the absence of this, the social network has rigged its own “Supreme Court” and funded through a foundation.