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Facebook changing 'race-blind' hate speech policy
TECHNOLOGY Beyond

Facebook changing 'race-blind' hate speech policy

On Thursday, Facebook said it is revising its systems to prioritize the blocking of slurs against Black people, homosexuals and other traditionally targeted vitriol categories, no longer automatically filtering out barbs broadly targeted at whites, men or Americans.

"Men are dumb"Men are dumb"Americans are stupid."Americans are dumb.

We recognize that hate speech directed at under-represented groups can be the most damaging, which is why we have based our technology on finding the hate speech that users and experts tell us is the most serious. 

Changes are made to the automated processes of the leading social network, ensuring that hateful posts about whites, men or Americans identified by users will still be removed if they breach Facebook policies.

Over the past year, Facebook has also revised its policies to capture more overt hate speech, such as black-face portrayals and Jewish stereotypes, Aldous said.

"Due to significant improvements in our technology we convenient format 95 percent of the content we remove and we aim to progress how we apply our rules as hate speech evolves over time," Aldous said.

The software tweak will initially target the most blatant slurs, including those against Black people, Muslims, people of more than one race, the LGBTQ community and Jews, Facebook said.

The move comes as the company faces pressure from civil rights groups that have long complained it does too little to police hate speech. 

Earlier this year, more than 1,000 advertisers boycotted Facebook to protest its handling of hate speech and misinformation.

"This is an important and long overdue step forward," Anti-Defamation League chief executive Jonathan Greenblatt said.

The ADL and other groups have advocated for Facebook to better fight anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia and "all forms of extremism," according to Greenblatt.

"While we are encouraged that Facebook is attacking the most serious symptoms of the disease that it permitted to spread for so many years, we need to see additional steps to cure the sickness of hate on social media," Greenblatt said.

The ADL and other organisations have supported Facebook's stronger fight against anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia and all forms of extremism," according to Greenblatt.

"While we are encouraged that Facebook is attacking the most serious symptoms of the disease that it permitted to spread for so many years, we need to see additional steps to cure the sickness of hate on social media," Greenblatt said.

Facebook and other social media have been criticized for failing to avoid violent and hateful material, including organized brutality, such as the genocide of the Rohingya minority in Myanmar and the decapitation of French schoolteacher Samuel Paty near Paris.

Facebook has been insistent that it is proactive when it comes to police hate speech, calls for abuse and disinformation.

The company said that since August, it found more than 600 militarized social movements and deleted their pages or profiles, part of an initiative that took 22.1 million "hate speech."

Critics of Facebook and other social networks argue that they should be kept responsible for abuse orchestrated on their sites, pushing for a law overhaul that protects internet providers from third-party content liability. But some critics claim that the networks cannot assume full blame for the profound social issues that have contributed to populism and street crime.

Facebook and others have long been wrestling with how to purge toxic content while fending charges that stifle free speech.

The Internet giant and its competitor Twitter were dragged to Capitol Hill by Republicans who argue the sites are biased towards the conservatives.

On Wednesday, Twitter announced that it was widening its concept of hateful content to prohibit language that "dehumanizes" people on the basis of race, ethnicity or national origin.

Twitter said it would delete offending tweets when identified, and gave examples such as describing a specific ethnic group as "scum" or "leeches."


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