We all know at least one person who has cracked under stress with a semi-charged Facebook post, and some of us are even guilty of it ourselves. Well, not so fast. In an effort to stifle the amount of hate speech on the social media platform, Facebook is hiring some extra help to police the site.
3,000 additional people, to be exact. And that’s to tack on to the 4,500 that are already responsible for reviewing content in order to remove or block anything that’s too offensive, or as Facebook puts it, “violates the network’s standards.” The Hayride has already experienced the effects of Facebook’s rigid standards. Some of our articles (like this one) were once blocked from the site. But we aren’t the only ones. Allen highlighted their activity: “Over the last two months, on average, we deleted around 66,000 posts reported as hate speech per week.”
How do they define “hate speech?” Richard Allen, Facebook’s vice president of public policy for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, says, “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,” reports Fox Business. “There is no universally accepted answer for when something crosses the line. Although a number of countries have laws against hate speech, their definitions vary significantly.”
But what about America? The way we see it here, we are not granted permission to express ourselves freely but are entitled to the right to do so. While we certainly do not support individuals bashing each other or other groups of people on social media, we do support the First Amendment, which coincidentally does not rule out hate speech. Isn’t this significant effort on Facebook’s part suppressing that?
In a blog post announcing the additions, the platform acknowledged that this “can feel like censorship.” Allen claims that “Facebook is ‘experimenting’ with technologies that could eventually help to automatically filter offensive language,” reports Fox Business. So, if this isn’t censorship, what is it?
Fox Business also noted that Facebook boasted about its efforts to combat terrorism online just earlier this month. And they have “more than 150 employees dedicated to counter-terrorism,” a modest quantity when compared to the 7,500 they now have countering hate speech. To put that in different terms, they have roughly 50 times more people tasked with monitoring hate speech than monitoring terrorism. Maybe they should reconsider their priorities.