The same day Facebook announced that they are now connecting over 2 billion people they released a blog post highlighting some of the nastier things that come with such a huge user base. The Hard Questions: Hate Speech blog post by VP of EMEA Public Policy, Richard Allen, highlights the daunting task of fighting the spread of hate across the social network.
The post opens by saying that Facebook is, “Opposed to hate speech in all its forms.” Before defining what Facebook sees as hate speech. To do this the social network leans on what are called “protected characteristics”. Race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender, gender identity, or serious disability or disease all fall under the protected characteristic classification.
Anything that directly attacks somebody based upon a protected characteristic is treated as hate speech.
This classification means that Facebook policy is sometimes at odds with national policy on hate speech but allows to Facebook to maintain a consistent policy regarding a subject that is affected by cultural and national norms around the world.
The big numbers come in when the amount of posts being deleted for hate speech are discussed. Over 66,000 posts a week are deleted, which is about 288,000 every month. The numbers are huge and only relate to Facebook. They do not include posts on Instagram.
Hard Questions: Hate Speech highlights the challenge that Facebook faces. The blog post goes into greater detail on the cultural variances they face when assessing flagged posts around the world and is definitely worth a read.