Oversight board asks Meta to rethink ‘shaheed’ ban

Oversight Board of Meta terms approach as "overbroad, and disproportionately restricts freedom of expression and civic discourse"
An undated image of Meta logo. — Unsplash
An undated image of Meta logo. — Unsplash

Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp’s parent company — Oversight Board of Meta — has directed Meta to remove the ban on the use of the word ‘shaheed’.

Terming Meta’s approach to moderating the word ‘shaheed’ —an Arabic word which translates to ‘martyr’ in English —as “overbroad, and disproportionately restricts freedom of expression and civic discourse”.

Last month, Meta asked its board whether it should continue to remove content using the Arabic term to refer to individuals designated under its Dangerous Organisations and Individuals policy.

Let's talk about social media and free speech. Meta has been in hot water lately for silencing voices, especially those speaking out for Palestine during the conflict with Israel. Apparently, the word ‘shaheed’ gets flagged more than anything else on their platforms!

An independent committee was looking into this issue, but things got messy when things flared up again in the Middle East. They hit pause on their advice but kept digging. Guess what? Even with all the fighting, their recommendations for how to handle ‘shaheed’ still hold true. It all boils down to respecting human rights, even during tough times.

The problem is, this company just sees 'shaheed' as a bad word terrorists use. But it has other meanings too, you know? Regular people use it all the time, and unfairly getting their posts yanked just because of this one word isn't cool. The committee says the company needs to ditch the blanket ban and take a closer look at each situation before pulling the plug.

Speaking to Geo.tv, Nighat Dad, an Oversight Board member, said the move will be beneficial for the media and the coverage of such events.

Dad told the publication that the recommendations that the board has given will be a huge incentive for journalists and reporters who cover dangerous individuals and organisations like the Taliban or Hamas because anytime anyone uses the word 'shaheed' with an individual, Meta takes severe action and strike.

“So, from the perspective of journalism and media, I think it will make a huge difference.”