Meta Oversight board rescinds Instagram ban on posts containing hallucinogens used in spiritual ceremonies

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Meta’s oversight committee announced this week that it was overturning a previous decision in July to remove an Instagram post describing what was described as ayahuasca.

In July, an Instagram account operated by a spiritual school in Brazil posted a photo of a dark brown liquid, which he described as ayahuasca. The text of the message read: “Ayahuasca is for those who have the courage to face each other.”

Ayahuasca is a hallucinogenic brew, made from a combination of different plants, used for spiritual and ritual purposes by indigenous communities in South America. The psychoactive compound responsible for the effects of ayahuasca, DMT, is a Schedule I controlled substance in the United States

After receiving approximately 4,000 views, the spiritual school post was reviewed by a human moderator and withdrawn for allegedly promoting the use of ayahuasca. The board ordered Thursday that the post be reinstated and Meta’s decision overturned.

In its decision, the board determined that while the post violated Facebook’s regulated property community standard, it did not violate Instagram community guidelines at the time and was not shared. than on Instagram, although Meta owns both Facebook and the photo sharing app.

“The board is concerned that the company will continue to apply Facebook’s community standards on Instagram without transparently informing users,” the supervisory board wrote.

“The board does not understand why Meta cannot immediately update the language in the Instagram community guidelines to tell users. Meta also did not tell the user in this case. what part of his rules he broke, “the board continued.

She pointed out that the post in question did not provide instructions on how to use ayahuasca and primarily dealt with its uses in a religious context.

The supervisory board also recommended that Meta change its policies to allow “a positive discussion of traditional or religious uses of non-medical drugs where there is historical evidence of such use.”

The board’s recommendation to allow traditional and non-medical drugs to feature in posts on the company’s platforms can end up being a controversial decision.

Throughout the pandemic, social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram have struggled to contain the spread of disinformation about COVID-19, especially users promoting unproven treatments or “cures” and potentially dangerous. Dozens of Facebook groups have been promoting the deworming drug ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment, although there is no basis for these claims.

Although Meta has pledged to remove any group or post promoting disinformation about COVID-19, critics have argued the company is not doing enough.

In October, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen told lawmakers she didn’t believe the tech company had the “ability to stop vaccine misinformation.”

La Colline reached out to Facebook for comment.


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