Meta's Oversight Board will take on more cases and make decisions faster

It will be able to 'respond more quickly in situations with urgent real-world consequences.'

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Meta's Oversight Board says it will review more cases and fast-track some within as little as 48 hours. "Increasing the number of decisions we produce, and the speed at which we do so, will let us tackle more of the big challenges of content moderation, and respond more quickly in situations with urgent real-world consequences," the board wrote in a blog post.

Although previous versions of the Oversight Board's bylaws mentioned expedited reviews of Facebook and Instagram content moderation cases, it has not used this process so far. Under the board's revised charter and bylaws, Meta can now refer expedited cases to the board with relevant information and an explanation as to why it felt an urgent review was necessary. If the board's co-chairs decide to take on an expedited case, Meta "agrees to be bound by the board’s ultimate determination," the bylaws state.

A panel (instead of the board's entire 23-strong membership) will review expedited cases and come to a decision that's posted on the Oversight Board's website within as little as 48 hours. The board notes, however, that this process can take up to 30 days. The target timeframe for standard decisions that demand more in-depth reviews is 90 days.

The board won't take public comments into account for expedited cases due to time constraints. It might also choose to carry out expedited reviews of user appeals.

Meanwhile, the Oversight Board plans to publish its first summary decisions. It said that after a committee chooses a list of cases that the board may consider, Meta sometimes reverses its original decision. The company has done so around 80 times so far, mostly to restore content it originally yanked. The board notes that while it has published full decisions on some of these cases, they've largely been summarized in transparency reports.

Moving forward, a committee will choose some of these cases in which Meta changed its mind. A panel (not the full board) will review them and publish summary decisions. These will include details about the original decision that Meta walked back and they won't take public comments into account. "We believe that these cases hold important lessons and can help Meta avoid making the same mistakes in the future," the board said.

Since it formed just over two years ago, the board has published 35 case decisions relating to moves by Facebook and Instagram to remove content or allow it to remain on the platforms. Last quarter alone, Meta users submitted 193,137 cases for review.

While it's unlikely that the board's latest steps mean it will review anything close to the full number of cases it receives, the group should be able to address high-profile, urgent cases more quickly, such as Meta's decision to indefinitely suspend former President Donald Trump from its platforms due to his influence over the January 6th, 2021 insurrection. The company restored his accounts earlier this month, but Trump has yet to post on them again.

Meanwhile, the Oversight Board has published its latest quarterly transparency report (PDF). The body says it has now made 196 policy recommendations to Meta, "many of which are already improving people’s experiences of Facebook and Instagram." By the end of October, the company had fully implemented 24 of the recommendations and had made progress on enacting dozens of others (Meta did not provide its fourth quarter update to the board before the transparency report was published).

The Oversight Board has also added a new board member. Kenji Yoshino is the Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Constitutional Law at New York University School of Law and the Director of the Meltzer Center for Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging. The board noted that he specializes in constitutional law; antidiscrimination law; and law and literature.