Facebook’s Oversight Board selects case on a comment related to Armenian Genocide

Facebook’s Oversight Board selected a case appealed by a Facebook user regarding a comment with a meme depicting Turkey having to choose between “The Armenian Genocide is a lie” and “The Armenians were terrorists who deserved it.”

Facebook took down this content for violating its policy on hate speech, as laid out in the Community Standards.

“We do not allow hate speech on Facebook, even in the context of satire, because it creates an environment of intimidation and exclusion, and in some cases, may promote real-world violence,” Facebook said.

“We will implement the board’s decision once it has finished deliberating, and we will update this post accordingly,” it added.

In December 2020, a Facebook user in the United States posted a comment containing an adaptation of the “two buttons” meme. This meme featured the same split-screen cartoon from the original meme, but with the cartoon character’s face substituted for a Turkish flag. The cartoon character has their right hand on their head and appears to be sweating. Above the cartoon character, in the other half of the split-screen, there are two red buttons with corresponding labels, in English: “The Armenian Genocide is a lie” and “The Armenians were terrorists who deserved it.” The meme was preceded and followed by “thinking face” emoji.

The user’s comment was in response to a post containing an image of a person wearing a niqab with overlay text in English saying: “Not all prisoners are behind bars.” At this point, the Board does not have access to all the intervening comments, and the meme may have been a response to one of those intervening comments.

Facebook removed the post under its Cruel and Insensitive Community Standard after one report from another Facebook user. Under this standard, Facebook removes content that “targets victims of serious physical or emotional harm,” including “explicit attempts to mock victims and mark as cruel implicit attempts, many of which take the form of memes and GIFs.” Subsequently, Facebook reclassified its removal to fall under its Hate Speech Community Standard.

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