Oversight Board: Meta Should Review the COVID-19 Claims it Removes and Improve Transparency

John Perrino is a policy analyst and Renée DiResta is the Research Manager at the Stanford Internet Observatory. Shutterstock The debate over how to identify and address false or misleading information about COVID-19 continues to be an important and contentious issue. Last year, Meta asked the Oversight Board to review whether the company should change its current COVID-19 misinformation policies for removing claims that are considered by medical authorities to be false and harmful. Meta specifically requested advice on whether to label or demote certain content, as the public health situation has changed in much of the world.  In response, last week the Oversight Board — the quasi-independent entity funded by Meta to guide its content moderation decisions and policy — released an advisory report calling for continued enforcement, but a reassessment of the types of claims Meta should remove under its current COVID-19 misinformation policy. The Board recommends a review of the 80 medical claims currently flagged for removal under Meta’s COVID-19 policy to evaluate their continued potential for harm. The Board also recommends Meta prioritize increased user and public transparency for moderation policies and enforcement decisions; support independent research through data access and engagement with outside teams; and conduct risk assessments on design features that might amplify harmful information. The non-binding opinion calls on Meta to prioritize addressing medical information that is likely to result in serious injury or death, while conspicuously noting that the Board attempted “to reconcile competing viewpoints from stakeholders and Board Members” by suggesting a…Oversight Board: Meta Should Review the COVID-19 Claims it Removes and Improve Transparency