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December 1, 2020

Facebook's "Supreme Court" has officially picked its first cases.

The Facebook Oversight Board, an independent body launched this year to review appeals of Facebook's content moderation decisions, on Tuesday announced it has chosen six cases, USA Today reports.

Three of the cases concern content removed for violating Facebook's hate speech policy, as the Oversight Board outlined in an announcement. In one case, a user whose post was removed said they shared screenshots of "horrible words" from a former Malaysian prime minister to raise awareness of them.

In another case, the board said a user shared "photos of a deceased child" with text asking "why there is no retaliation against China for its treatment of Uyghur Muslims, in contrast to the recent killings in France relating to cartoons." The user said they wanted to "disagree with people who think the killer is right and to emphasize that human lives matter more than religious ideologies." The third hate speech case concerns a user who says they wanted to "demonstrate the destruction of cultural and religious monuments."

The other three cases involve an Instagram post a user says was removed due to nudity but was intended to "raise awareness of signs of breast cancer," a Joseph Goebbels quote that was removed that the user says was intended to criticize President Trump, and a case Facebook itself referred concerning the "risk of offline harm that can be caused by" misinformation about COVID-19.

More than 20,000 cases were referred to the board to review, according to the announcement. Facebook says it will implement the board's decisions "unless doing so could violate the law." But critics who have launched their own Facebook oversight board have criticized the official one, calling it a "toothless body," per USA Today. Among the cases this separate group will review, Reuters reports, is Facebook's decision not to ban former White House strategist Stephen Bannon for suggesting two government officials should be beheaded. Brendan Morrow

February 26, 2019

The House Oversight Committee has just voted to issue its first subpoenas of the 116th Congress.

The committee on Tuesday voted to subpoena documents from the departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services related to the Trump administration's migrant family separation policy, The Associated Press reports. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said "this is a true national emergency" and accused the administration of "government-sponsored child abuse."

The administration's controversial separating of thousands of young migrants from their parents at the border occurred as part of the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy. President Trump in June signed an order to end the practice, although The Washington Post reported in October that the administration was "actively considering plans that could again separate parents and children at the U.S.-Mexico border." According to a report from the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services last month, the number of children separated from their parents at the border since 2017 may exceed the 2,737 the government has said but the actual number is "unknown." Brendan Morrow

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