Meta should change its standard for Adult Nudity and Sexual Activity Community so that it is governed by clear criteria that respects international human rights standards, the company’s Oversight Board says. The board has overturned Meta’s original decisions to remove two Instagram posts depicting transgender and non-binary people with bare chests.
Two separate pieces of content were posted by the same Instagram account, one in 2021, the other in 2022. The account is maintained by a US-based couple who identify as transgender and non-binary.
Both posts feature images of the couple bare-chested with the nipples covered. The image captions discuss transgender healthcare and say that one member of the couple will soon undergo top surgery (gender-affirming surgery to create a flatter chest), which the couple are fundraising to pay for.
“Following a series of alerts by Meta’s automated systems and reports from users, the posts were reviewed multiple times for potential violations of various Community Standards”, the board reports.
“Meta ultimately removed both posts for violating the Sexual Solicitation Community Standard, seemingly because they contain breasts and a link to a fundraising page.”
The users appealed to Meta and then to the Board. After the Board accepted the cases, Meta found it had removed the posts in error and restored them.
The Oversight Board finds that removing these posts is not in line with Meta’s Community Standards, values or human rights responsibilities. These cases also highlight fundamental issues with Meta’s policies, the board says.
“Meta’s internal guidance to moderators on when to remove content under the Sexual Solicitation policy is far broader than the stated rationale for the policy, or the publicly available guidance. This creates confusion for users and moderators and, as Meta has recognized, leads to content being wrongly removed.”
The Board says it has consistently said Meta must be sensitive to how its policies impact people subject to discrimination. The Board finds that Meta’s policies on adult nudity result in greater barriers to expression for women, trans, and gender non-binary people on its platforms.
Meta should change its approach to managing nudity on its platforms by defining clear criteria to govern the Adult Nudity and Sexual Activity policy, which ensure all users are treated in a manner consistent with human rights standards, the board says.
“It should also examine whether the Adult Nudity and Sexual Activity policy protects against non-consensual image sharing, and whether other policies need to be strengthened in this regard.”