Facebook's hate speech challenge to intensify

Facebook's hate speech challenge to intensify

Facebook has responded to concerns over how it addresses “controversial, harmful and hateful” speech on the social platform and pledged “to do better”.

In a blog post Facebook admitted that its current systems for identifying and removing hate speech have “failed”.

The social giant’s VP of global public policy, Marne Levine, said it will begin rolling out changes immediately to address the issue: “We need to do better – and we will.”

Sam Mutimer, director of social media at Melbourne’s Think Tank Social, told B&T it’s good to see a brand of this size listen and implement. “Even though the problem has been bubbling for a while."

“The main point is they are actioning this and a business in this environment today has to be adaptable, so better late than never," Mutimer added.

Locally, Facebook resisted pressure to shut down a page last year which contained hate speech directed towards the accused murderer of Victorian woman Jill Meagher.

Facebook eventually shut down the page after repeated requests from Victoria Police.

Monitoring and responding quickly to inappropriate material is only going to get harder for Facebook, according to Mutimer.

“Pages can and are being created by anyone around certain issues that are deemed to be ‘inappropriate’ by many,” she said.

“Everyone has an opinion and anyone can now have a voice and gain attention very quickly.

“Facebook will find it increasingly more difficult to manage these types of pages that have multiple agendas, even though, granted, they have put more stringent processes into place.”

Facebook’s post follows pressure from campaign groups Women, Action and The Media and The Everyday Sexism Project.

“In recent days, it has become clear that our systems to identify and remove hate speech have failed to work as effectively as we would like, particularly around issues of gender-based hate,” Levine said.

“In some cases, content is not being removed as quickly as we want.  In other cases, content that should be removed has not been or has been evaluated using outdated criteria.

“We have been working over the past several months to improve our systems to respond to reports of violations, but the guidelines used by these systems have failed to capture all the content that violates our standards.”

To address the issue Facebook said it will consult with legal experts and representatives from groups that have historically faced discrimination to ensure its guidelines around hate speech are adequate.

In addition to this Levine said Facebook will update its training and increase accountability of content creators.

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