Facebook recently announced that they will be hiring a new team to crack down on “hate speech.
While they have yet to define what “hate speech” truly is, the company is planning to hire 3,000 additional employees to join their current team of 4,000.
The hires are expected to take place through the current year and various parts of the initiative were detailed by Richard Allen, vice president of public policy for Europe.
“We are an open platform for all ideas, a place where we want to encourage self-expression, connection and sharing,” Allen wrote. “At the same time, when people come to Facebook, we always want them to feel welcome and safe. That’s why we have rules against bullying, harassing and threatening someone.”
“Our current definition of hate speech is anything that directly attacks people based on what are known as their ‘protected characteristics’ — race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender, gender identity, or serious disability or disease,” he wrote. “There is no universally accepted answer for when something crosses the line. Although a number of countries have laws against hate speech, their definitions of it vary significantly.”
“Sometimes, it’s obvious that something is hate speech and should be removed — because it includes the direct incitement of violence against protected characteristics, or degrades or dehumanizes people,” he wrote. “If we identify credible threats of imminent violence against anyone, including threats based on a protected characteristic, we also escalate that to local law enforcement.”
“But sometimes, there isn’t a clear consensus — because the words themselves are ambiguous, the intent behind them is unknown or the context around them is unclear,” he added. “Language also continues to evolve, and a word that was not a slur yesterday may become one today.”
“If we fail to remove content that you report because you think it is hate speech, it feels like we’re not living up to the values in our Community Standards,” Allen wrote. “When we remove something you posted and believe is a reasonable political view, it can feel like censorship. We know how strongly people feel when we make such mistakes, and we’re constantly working to improve our processes and explain things more fully.”
“Our mistakes have caused a great deal of concern in a number of communities, including among groups who feel we act — or fail to act — out of bias,” he added. “We are deeply committed to addressing and confronting bias anywhere it may exist. At the same time, we work to fix our mistakes quickly when they happen.”
Conservative Tribune reports:
Allen concluded by stressing that his community operations team would be working hard to better understand the changing face of language and the variety of local context that can have a huge impact on whether a post constitutes hate speech or not.
While Facebook’s intentions may be admirable, and, as a private entity, the company is fully within its rights to crack down on any sort of speech it sees fit, this move still amounts to a form of censorship in the U.S., as all speech — even the most disgusting and abhorrent — is supposed to be fully protected.
Plus, it’s important to remember that Facebook’s processes for judging a post are far from perfect.
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