Meta’s Oversight Board Demands More COVID-19 Censorship

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Jason Cohen Contributor
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Meta’s Oversight Board, an independent body that reviews the social media platform’s content moderation efforts, published a report Thursday recommending continued censorship of COVID-19 misinformation.

Meta insisted on having one worldwide approach to COVID-19 misinformation, leading the Board to decide that Meta should continue its present policy as long as the World Health Organization (WHO) classifies the virus as an international public health emergency, according to the report. Therefore, they advised that the company should persist in censoring COVID-19 information deemed false that is “likely to directly contribute to the risk of imminent and significant physical harm.”

Meta currently restricts 80 different COVID-19 claims, such as saying the virus does not exist or claiming that its vaccines cause death or a broad range of severe side effects, according to the report. The giant removed 27 million examples of COVID-19 falsehoods from Facebook and Instagram between March 2020 and July 2022.

Meta also censors heavily disputed claims, such as the claim that properly wearing a mask does not assist in stopping COVID-19 contagion and claims that COVID-19 vaccines are experimental.

The Board recommended that Meta commence a process of conducting regular and transparent evaluations of these 80 claims with a wide variety of stakeholders, sharing the results with the public.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – NOVEMBER 30: Meta CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg speaks during the New York Times DealBook Summit in the Appel Room at the Jazz At Lincoln Center on November 30, 2022 in New York City. The New York Times held its first in person DealBook Summit since the start of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic with speakers from the worlds of financial services, technology, consumer goods, private investment, venture capital, banking, media, public relations, policy, government, and academia. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

In addition to removal, Meta may fact-check, label, or demote COVID-19 misinformation, according to the report. (RELATED: ‘We’ve Lost Key Battles’: Big Tech Companies Quietly Reduce Censorship Teams Following Legal Battles, Layoffs)

“We thank the Oversight Board for its review and recommendations in this case,” a Meta spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “As Covid-19 evolves, we will continue consulting extensively with experts on the most effective ways to help people stay safe on our platforms.”

Meta will review the board’s recommendations and respond to each publicly within 60 days, according to the spokesperson. This is the first time the Board has directly commented on Meta’s policies relating to pandemic information.

According to the Board’s bylaws, Meta is required to respond to the recommendations within 60 days, a spokesperson for Meta’s Oversight Board told the DCNF. The Board reviews Meta’s implementation of its recommendations in quarterly transparency reports.

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