Global Freedom of Expression

Oversight Board Case of Cartoon Showing Taliban Oppression Against Women

Closed Expands Expression

Key Details

  • Mode of Expression
    Electronic / Internet-based Communication
  • Date of Decision
    March 7, 2024
  • Outcome
    Oversight Board Decision, Overturned Meta’s initial decision
  • Case Number
  • Region & Country
    Netherlands, International
  • Judicial Body
    Oversight Board
  • Type of Law
    International Human Rights Law, Meta's content policies
  • Themes
    Facebook Community Standards, Violence And Criminal Behavior, Dangerous Individuals and Organizations
  • Tags
    Facebook, Discrimination, Satire/Parody, Cartoons, Oversight Board Enforcement Recommendation

Content Attribution Policy

Global Freedom of Expression is an academic initiative and therefore, we encourage you to share and republish excerpts of our content so long as they are not used for commercial purposes and you respect the following policy:

  • Attribute Columbia Global Freedom of Expression as the source.
  • Link to the original URL of the specific case analysis, publication, update, blog or landing page of the down loadable content you are referencing.

Attribution, copyright, and license information for media used by Global Freedom of Expression is available on our Credits page.

Case Analysis

Case Summary and Outcome

On March 7, 2024, the Oversight Board issued a summary decision overturning Meta’s original decision to remove a Facebook post of a satirical political cartoon illustrating Afghan women’s oppression under the Taliban regime. Meta initially removed the post for violating its Dangerous Organizations and Individuals policy which prohibited the representation of groups the company designated as linked to offline harm. After the Board notified Meta of the user’s appeal of the original decision, the company reversed its original decision and restored the post. Accordingly, the Board issued this summary decision in which it underlined that enforcement errors such as this one could gravely impact artistic and political expression.

*The Oversight Board is a separate entity from Meta and will provide its independent judgment on both individual cases and questions of policy. Both the Board and its administration are funded by an independent trust. The Board has the authority to decide whether Facebook and Instagram should allow or remove content. The Board issues full decisions and summary decisions. Decisions, except summary decisions, are binding unless implementing them could violate the law. The Board can also choose to issue recommendations on the company’s content policies. Summary decisions are a transparency mechanism, providing information to the public on Meta’s decision making and the Board’s recommendations relating to cases where Meta reversed its original decision on its own accord, after receiving notice from the Board about the appeal.


In August 2023, a Dutch professional cartoonist posted a cartoon on Facebook depicting a group of distressed women beneath a car crusher carrying three Taliban men. In the background was a meter labeled “oppress-o-meter”, and one of the men was seen pressing a button, causing the crusher to lower. The caption of the cartoon was “2 years of Taliban rule. #Afghanistan #Taliban #women #oppression.”

Meta originally removed the post from Facebook arguing that it violated the Dangerous Organizations and Individuals (DOI) policy, which prohibits representation and support of groups and individuals designated as dangerous by the company. However, the policy permits content reporting on, condemning, or neutrally discussing these designated groups and individuals. The user appealed this decision to the Oversight Board claiming that their post should be allowed under the policy’s allowance for content reporting, condemning, or neutrally discussing dangerous organizations or their activities.

After the Board notified Meta of the appeal, Meta reversed its original decision and restored the post to Facebook. In this context, the Board issued a summary decision.

Decision Overview

The primary issue before the Oversight Board was whether Meta over-enforced its DOI policy—invalidly restricting freedom of expression—by removing from Facebook a post of a cartoon of three Taliban men crushing a group of distressed women and pressing a button connected to a meter labeled “oppress-o-meter.”

In their appeal to the Board, the user clarified that the cartoon was a political satirical commentary on the continued and worsening oppression of women by the Taliban in Afghanistan. On the other hand, Meta reversed its original decision and restored the content after being notified of the appeal by the Board.

The Board noted that this case underlined Meta’s enforcement errors regarding the interpretation of images related to designated organizations and individuals. Furthermore, it expressed concern that the over-enforcement of the DOI policy would stifle political artistic expression, similar to the content at hand.

Moreover, the Board recalled two of its recommendations from the Mention of the Taliban in News Reporting decision. The first recommendation was for Meta to review its human moderators’ accuracy when enforcing the DOI policy to identify and reduce enforcement errors. The second recommendation was for the company to evaluate its high-impact false positive override system ranker to improve prioritizing enforcement errors of the DOI policy allowances. Meta reported progress on the implementation of both recommendations.

Additionally, the Board highlighted its recommendation for Meta to improve its procedures to analyze satirical content appropriately and to provide moderators with adequate resources to be able to do so, as laid out in the “Two-Buttons” Meme decision. Meta reported partial implementation of this policy.

The Oversight Board overturned Meta’s original decision to remove the content and acknowledged Meta’s correction of the initial error. The Board emphasized the importance of implementing the aforementioned recommendations to reduce enforcement errors of the DOI policy.

Decision Direction

Quick Info

Decision Direction indicates whether the decision expands or contracts expression based on an analysis of the case.

Expands Expression

By overturning Meta’s original decision, the Oversight Board expands expression as it recognizes the wider scope of freedom of expression given to political and artistic expressions. Additionally, the Board expands expression by overturning arbitrary restrictions on expression on Meta’s platforms.

Global Perspective

Quick Info

Global Perspective demonstrates how the court’s decision was influenced by standards from one or many regions.

Table of Authorities

Related International and/or regional laws

Case Significance

Quick Info

Case significance refers to how influential the case is and how its significance changes over time.

This case did not set a binding or persuasive precedent either within or outside its jurisdiction. The significance of this case is undetermined at this point in time.

Official Case Documents

Official Case Documents:


Have comments?

Let us know if you notice errors or if the case analysis needs revision.

Send Feedback