Facebook to revamp its fight against hate speech

Facebook wants to overhaul its approach to hate speech. A move that will detect and address the worst-of-the-worst cases, rather than treat all hate speech equally.

The Washington Post reports that the social network has shared an internal outline of its WoW Project.

The plan is to focus more on deleting hateful remarks against Black people, Muslims, multiracials, Jews, and the LGBTQ community.

“We know that hate speech targeted towards underrepresented groups can be the most harmful, which is why we have focused our technology on finding the hate speech that users and experts tell us is the most serious. Over the past year, we’ve also updated our policies to catch more implicit hate speech, such as content depicting Blackface, stereotypes about Jewish people controlling the world, and banned holocaust denial,” confirmed Facebook, as it made changes to its hate speech approach without sharing the specifics.

The update is on the heels of a major backlash this year for its blind eye on alleged hate speech from US President Donald Trump. 

After the murder of George Floyd under police hands, President Trump posted this seemingly stirring comment when he referred to the #BlackLivesMatter protests.

Activists are pushing to boycott Facebook ads due to its inaction. And big brands paused their Facebook ad spend in July to support them.

Taking action

Facebook met with different groups and swore to change its policies. It started outlining a new ‘worst of the worst’ hate speech action plan to staff in October. And it combined its key learnings from these meetings.

This may help Facebook address key concerns better, as it further aligns the platform with the incoming US leadership. Facebook has walked a thin line with President Trump.

Trump will move out of the White House next month. And Facebook may have to change policies to align with President-elect Joe Biden. He will be taking a more progressive approach than Trump.

Facebook may come under pressure. In a recent interview with The Atlantic, former US President Barack Obama advised that misinformation on social media was ‘the single biggest threat to our democracy’.

“Now you have a situation in which large swaths of the country genuinely believe that the Democratic Party is a front for a pedophile ring. This stuff takes root. I was talking to a volunteer who was going door-to-door in Philadelphia in low-income African American communities, and was getting questions about QAnon conspiracy theories. The fact is that there is still a large portion of the country that was taken in by a carnival barker,” says Obama. 

This may mean that Biden may put pressure on Facebook. So, the social network wants to move ahead and update its policies now. 

Facebook must line up with the sitting President to apply key changes and advance its own agenda. It is already spending big on Washington-based lobbyists to maintain ties, and to avoid scrutiny on many fronts.

Author: Francis Rey

Francis is a voracious reader and prolific writer. He has been writing about social media and technology for more than 10 years. During off hours, he relishes moments with his wife and daughter.

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