“Meta has informed the Oversight Board that the company would be withdrawing an earlier request for policy guidance concerning content moderation issues related to Russia’s ongoing war with Ukraine,” read a tweet thread by the Facebook Oversight Board on May 11. The company reportedly cited "ongoing safety and security concerns" as the reason for this action. “While the Board understands these concerns, we believe the request raises important issues and are disappointed by the company’s decision to withdraw it,” it added. However, the specifics of Meta's request, when it was made, and why it was withdrawn are still unclear. This is the first time that Meta has withdrawn a request made to the Oversight Board, setting a precedent that could not only hurt its working relationship with the Board but also damage its commitment to transparency. What led to the request from Meta? In March, Facebook moderators were instructed to temporarily allow for calls of violence against Russian leaders and soldiers invading Ukraine. A few days later, Meta's President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg clarified that the policy wasn’t meant to allow for violent speech targetted at Russian civilians or “a head of state.” Soon after Clegg’s memo was leaked, Russia banned Facebook and Instagram in March and found Meta guilty of "extremist activity". Meta's messaging service WhatsApp is not affected by the ban. Meta made the initial request for advice from the Board in secret, The Verge had reported in April. The company didn’t publicly announce its request when…
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