Facebook’s “Oversight Board,” fresh from its controversial part in the extension of former President Donald Trump’s suspension from the platform for at least two years, have announced that the Big Tech giant will be updating its community standards in order to clarify what it deems “satire.”
“On March 2, 2021, the Oversight Board selected a case appealed by someone on Facebook regarding a comment with a meme depicting Turkey having to choose between ‘The Armenian Genocide is a lie’ and ‘The Armenians were terrorists who deserved it,’” Facebook announced in a blog post.
The post referenced by the Oversight Board was a version of the popular “two buttons” meme.
“The Facebook company took down this content for violating our policy on hate speech, as laid out in the Facebook Community Standards. We do not allow hate speech on Facebook, even in the context of satire, because it creates an environment of intimidation and exclusion, and in some cases, may promote real-world violence,” Facebook continued.
Unsurprisingly, Facebook said that they “welcome the Oversight Board selected a case on this case” and had immediately reinstated the content.
The social media platform then listed a range of recommendations given by the Oversight Board, many of which related to satirical content.
The first such recommendation, which Facebook is “implementing fully,” involved adding the “satire exception, which is currently not communicated to users, in the public language of the Hate Speech Community Standard.”
The second such recommendation, with Facebook “assessing” its “feasibility,” involves making sure that Facebook “has adequate procedures in place to assess satirical content and relevant context properly including by providing content moderators with additional resources.”
“We commit to provide regional and escalations teams the ability to evaluate content for satire through a new satire framework. We also are assessing how to apply this review at scale,” Facebook responded.
The company then referenced the implementation of “a new satire framework,” which will be used “for evaluating potential satire exceptions.”
“Regional teams will be able to provide satire assessments, as well as escalate pieces of content to specialized teams for an additional review when necessary,” Facebook added.
“We previously began developing a framework for assessing humor and satire and are prioritizing completing it based on the board’s recommendation,” Facebook claimed. “This work included over 20 engagements with academic experts, journalists, comedians, representatives of satirical publications, and advocates for freedom of expression.”
Facebook then noted the subjectivity of “humor and satire” and that “intent is key.”
“Stakeholders noted that humor and satire are highly subjective across people and cultures, underscoring the importance of human review by individuals with cultural context. Stakeholders also told us that ‘intent is key,’ though it can be tough to assess. Further, true satire does not ‘punch down’: the target of humorous or satirical content is often an indicator of intent. And if content is simply derogatory, not layered, complex, or subversive, it is not satire. Indeed, humor can be an effective mode of communicating hateful ideas,” Facebook continued.
“Given the context-specific nature of satire, we are not immediately able to scale this kind of assessment or additional consultation to our content moderators. We need time to assess the potential tradeoffs between identifying and escalating more content that may qualify for our satire exception, against prioritizing escalations for the highest severity policies, increasing the amount of content that would be escalated, and potentially slower review times among our content moderators.”
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