Facebook Oversight Board and Intermediary Rules, 2021:

Facebook Oversight Board has overturned Facebook’s decision to remove a post attributing a possible Sikh genocide to the Indian government. OB’s decision highlights Facebook’s human rights responsibility owed to minorities in India, as its rationale, for the reversal.
Key areas: Whether Facebook’s human rights policies are aligned with local Indian laws?

In 2019, Facebook failed to permanently delete hundreds of posts that targeted caste and religious minorities in India even after they were reported to the social networking giant. A team of 20 international researchers – that included Dalits, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, and others – systematically recorded 1,000 Facebook posts that they found to be in violation of the platform’s community standards.
Therefore, on March 16, 2021, Facebook introduced its Human Rights Policy which would be applicable to the entire world and relevant for India. The new policy would include reporting human rights issues, like risks to freedom of expression to their board of directors. It will also include releasing a public report annually on how it is addressing human rights concerns stemming from its products, policies or business practices.
This policy formalises these commitments and that is indeed a welcome step. However, it is a step that is short in substance and remains to be fulfilled in practice especially for jurisdictions such as India. However, the policy has a number of issues and does not conform the Indian laws. The rules and regulations are vague in nature, and does not provide full information on their policies and how they are going to be implemented.

Important Resources:

  1. https://internetfreedom.in/facebook-human-rights-policy/ (Examining Facebook’s Human Rights Policy)
  2. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/oversight-board-overturns-facebooks-decision-to-remove-a-post-related-to-genocide-of-sikhs/article34440560.ece (Oversight Board’s decision to overturn Facebook’s removal of post)
  3. https://thewire.in/media/facebook-hate-speech-guidelines-india-study (Facebook’s Uneven Enforcement of Hate Speech Rules in India Highlighted in New Study)