The Center for Democracy & Technology welcomes the opportunity to provide comments on case 2022-007-IG-MR (updated link) before the Facebook Oversight Board regarding the takedown of an Instagram post following a request from UK law enforcement alleging that the post may contribute to offline violence.
A post from an account promoting UK drill music was taken down by Instagram following a request from local law enforcement. The post featured a short clip from a new drill music video from rapper Chinx (OS). The law enforcement authority informed Meta that the post referenced a past shooting and could provoke further violence. It is not clear from the Case Summary whether the authority identified the post to be a violation of local UK law. The post was then reviewed by an internal team at Meta and was taken down for violating the company’s Violence and Incitement policy, which Meta informed the Board can only be enforced by Meta’s internal teams. The user who created the post was notified by Meta both times their content was removed but was not informed that the removals were initiated by a request from UK law enforcement.
This practice of law enforcement flagging content for companies to review against their Terms of Service (TOS) is part of a growing arsenal state authorities use to pursue content removal from online services. Law enforcement authorities may do this informally or through formal structures, such as Internal Referral Units (IRU). This practice raises a number of human rights, transparency, and due process related concerns.