Last August, Facebook removed a post where a user asked for advice on how to talk to a doctor about the prescription drug Adderall. The Oversight Board has now overturned the decision, arguing there was no immediate or direct link between the post and the probability of harm.
In June, the user, based in the US, asked the question in a private group for adults who supposedly have “attention deficit hyperactivity disorder” (ADHD).
The user, who suggests they have ADHD, asked group members how they would approach their doctor about Adderall. The user said they were given Xanax. They added Adderall had worked for them in the past; other drugs “zombie me out.”
The user was worried that approaching a doctor directly for an Adderall prescription would appear as drug-seeking.
The post had attracted comments from other group members providing advice. But Facebook removed it for violating the Restricted Goods and Services policy. The user’s account was also suspended for 30 days.
After reviewing the case, the Board found that Facebook’s decision to remove the post was a mistake.
It argued that the Restricted Goods and Services policy does not ban the content seeking advice on pharmaceutical drugs for real medical conditions.
The Board also found Facebook’s definition of pharmaceutical and non-medical drugs to be insufficient. Currently, Xanax and Adderall could fall in both categories, according to the Board.
The Board also found the decision to remove the posts as not only unnecessary but also disproportionate. The post could not have caused harm, and the user even included a warning: “CW: Medication, addiction.”
The restriction of her account for 30 days was a violation of the user’s freedom of expression, argued the Board.