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Meta to review moderation of Arabic word ‘shaheed’
Meta called for public comments to assist with considerations by submitting a contribution request on its website.
Meta’s oversight board is seeking guidance on treating the Arabic word “shaheed,” commonly translated to “martyr” in English, as it accounts for more content removals on the company’s platforms than any other single word or phrase.
The board announced it would review the moderation of the Arabic word on the company’s social media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram.
The parent company of Facebook and Instagram had asked the board for advice on whether it should continue to take down posts with the word “shaheed” to refer to individuals designated as dangerous or use a different approach.
Thomas Hughes, Director of Oversight Board Administration, noted, “This is a complex moderation issue that impacts how millions of people express themselves online and whether Muslim and Arabic-speaking communities are subject to over-enforcement of their content because of Meta’s enforcement practices.”
“Shaheed” has multiple meanings in Arabic, including that of “witness” to an event, and is often used to refer to people who have died in sacrifice to a sacred cause.
The board noted that moderating the word could impact news reporting in Arabic-speaking countries. It called for public comments to assist with considerations by submitting a contribution request on its website. The form is open until April 10; the board noted that the final decision would be further deliberated and will post the result on its website.
Launched in late 2020, Meta set up and funded the oversight board to review Facebook and Instagram decisions on removing or retaining content and make rulings on whether to uphold or overturn the company’s actions. It examines concerns from Meta and users who have gone through the company’s internal appeals process.
Its first annual report, covering October 2020 to December 2022, noted that the board received over a million appeals, issued 20 decisions –- 14 of which overturned Meta’s rulings — and made 86 recommendations to the company.