Comment to Meta’s Oversight Board in the Case of ‘India Sexual Harassment Video (2022-012-IG-MR)’

Oversight Board is an external, independent body created by Meta that people can appeal to if they disagree with Meta’s content enforcement decisions on Facebook or Instagram. Out of the appeals it receives, the Case Selection Committee of the Board will select the cases that the Board will hear based on some criteria that it sets (e.g., importance and precedential impact), which may change over time. The content decisions of the Board are binding and Meta will restore or remove the content accordingly. Committed to bringing diverse perspectives into the case review process, the Board invites public comments to respond to the cases that it takes up for hearing.

On 15 September 2022, the Oversight Board announced a case from India for consideration and invited public comments on the same. The case pertained to a video depicting a woman being sexually assaulted by a group of men, which went viral. The video was posted by an Instagram account describing itself as a platform for Dalit perspectives, and the text accompanying the video stated that a "tribal woman" was sexually assaulted. The video was initially removed by human reviewers of Meta as it violated its Adult Sexual Exploitation Policy. However, it was restored under its “newsworthy allowance” by another specialized team of Meta. The details of the case can be found here

In our comments to the Board, we recommend that in assessing whether a content qualifies as newsworthy in the Indian context, the long-standing injustice faced by Dalits and the tribal community, and the power imbalance between the dominant social groups and the marginalized majority should be duly considered. But this consideration must be balanced with the rights of women who face double disadvantage and discrimination on account of their gender as well as caste/tribal identity. We argue against permitting newsworthy allowance to the content in question as it instrumentalizes the traumatic experience of the woman (especially if the video was shared non-consensually), thereby denying her the right to dignity and privacy. We also recommend that the Board inquire into the basis for the decision of Meta’s team of human reviewers to adjudge the content in question as newsworthy, and their knowledge of the deeply discriminatory structures of caste and patriarchy in India.

Read our complete comment here.


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