Facebook’s advisory board, an independent body that acts as a tribunal on what content is removed from the social network, determined Monday that videos featuring protesters calling Colombian President Iván Duque a “fag” are newsworthy and, therefore, should be allowed on the platform.
In a statement, the council admitted that “fag” is considered to be hate speech according to the social network’s own community standards, but that, nevertheless, its newsworthiness in a context of widespread protests in the country makes its use in the public interest.
Facebook will have to republish the deleted video, as part of its commitment to adopt all decisions taken by the board.
The council agreed to study the case in mid-July, after a regional Colombian media outlet appealed Facebook’s decision to remove an informative video of citizen protests in June in which demonstrators insulted the president.
Specifically, in the images, citizens could be heard dedicating to Duque chants such as “stop being a fag on TV,” a term that Facebook moderators considered to violate its policies against hate speech.
Thus, the social network proceeded to remove the video, deeming that the term “fag” “negatively describes people with offensive words and insults based on protected characteristics such as sexual orientation.”
The video in which the protesters dedicated this chant to the Colombian president was viewed 19,000 times, shared by more than 70 users and denounced by five others.
After the content was removed, the Colombian media outlet — which Facebook did not identify — appealed the decision to the advisory board claiming that it is a news event that does not seek to harm anyone, but only to show the reality of street protests in Colombia.
It also defended the publication of the video, assuring that “young Colombians express themselves without violence and demand rights using their usual language.”
The protests in Colombia, which were initially called in April to reject a tax reform of the government of President Ivan Duque, resulted in one of the worst recent crises in the country and in cities such as Bogota and Cali were marked by violence.
In its brief, Facebook’s board remarked that while the word faggot is used “on one occasion,” the protesters are primarily focused on criticizing Colombia’s conservative president.
Following this decision, Facebook will have to republish the deleted video (the company committed to implement all resolutions taken by the Board) and, in addition, the court ordered it to publish clear criteria on how to reconcile news facts and banned content.