Facebook Oversight Board orders the platform to restore post criticizing the Myanmar coup

The Oversight Board decided Facebook must restore a post criticizing Myanmar’s new regime and its relationship with China. The post was originally removed for breaching policies on racial hate speech against Chinese people. The Board considered, however, that the language used in the publication was more appropriately related to political criticism of the Chinese government. The decision highlighted that the way moderators translated a specific Burmese word was not accurate. When the user appealed the decision, he mentioned it should be reviewed by someone who understands the Myanmar language. Facebook moderators had translated his post as “fucking Chinese” as the user was offending Chinese citizens, when in fact he was criticizing the influence of the Chinese state. The Board concluded that “as the same word is used in Burmese to refer to a state and people from that state, context is key to understanding the intended meaning”.

The post had never been flagged by other users as offensive. It came under Facebook scrutiny after it was automatically selected as part of a sample and sent to a human reviewer to be used for classifier training, as part of Facebook’s effort to improve algorithmic flagging system.