Meta’s Oversight Board Recommends Major Advance in International Accountability

Alexa Koenig, PhD, JD, is the Executive Director of the Human Rights Center, director of the center’s Technology and Human Rights program, and a lecturer at UC Berkeley School of Law. A woman walks through an Armenian housing complex destroyed through bombardment from Azerbaijan in Nagorno Karabakh, Oct. 10, 2020. Yan Boechat/VOA This article is cross-posted at Just Security. On June 13, Meta’s Oversight Board–an organization that issues binding decisions related to the company’s content moderation challenges–released a ruling and series of recommendations that may have far-reaching ripples for the human rights and international criminal legal communities. Recommending a Protocol for Conflict-Related Content Known as the “Armenian prisoners of war video case,” the central issue the case raised before the Board was whether a Facebook post of prisoners of war (POWs) should have been taken down to protect the prisoners’ dignity and security, as provided for in Geneva Convention Article 13 on the humane treatment of prisoners, or left up because it was newsworthy. The Oversight Board ultimately agreed with Meta’s decision to leave the graphic video up but with an age restriction and a warning to protect potential viewers, including the POWs’ family members. As important as this decision is, it is the accompanying recommendations that are exceptionally important. While the Board could have limited its commentary to the specific case, it leveraged the opportunity to issue a series of suggestions related to conflict-related posts generally. First, it recommended that Meta create greater clarity and transparency around when conflict-connected…Meta’s Oversight Board Recommends Major Advance in International Accountability