After the EU asked Facebook to crack down on hate speech, the social media giant agreed to do so and may now have gone completely overboard as the company has declared that it removed 11.4 million pieces of so-called “hate speech” between April and September 2019.
There have been several instances in the past wherein the EU has pressurized tech companies such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google into censoring speech. For instance, back in 2016, the tech giants themselves vowed to delete any instances of “hate speech” within 24 hours of being notified about it.
Later in 2017, Germany passed a law known as the “Network Enforcement” law through which tech giants could be fined up to €50 million if they failed to censor “hate speech” in under 24 hours.
Now, a brief overview of the latest official blog post by Facebook reveals that the company took pride in deleting 3.2 billion fake accounts and removing 11.4 million pieces of hate speech. Titled as the “Community Standards Enforcement Report,” the company shared metrics on how it prevented and took action on content that went against the company's policies and Community Standards.
While the social media giant claims that it is succeeding in eradicating hate speech across the social media platform, several users have expressed disdain at the fact that they've been locked out of their accounts without any prior warning. Similarly, users have also noted that they've been the subject of censorship.
It is to be noted that Facebook has not explicitly and clearly defined hate speech with examples and only goes by overtly generic and broad definitions of it. Moreover, the company hasn't specified any instances of hate speech it removed, only metrics.
A recent research study showed that giving users more information on what content is removed and why is much more effective in terms of moderation than simply deleting content and providing metrics.
Here's how Facebook defines “hate speech”:
“We define hate speech as violent or dehumanizing speech, statements of inferiority, calls for exclusion or segregation based on protected characteristics, or slurs. These characteristics include race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, caste, sex, gender, gender identity, and serious disability or disease. When the intent is clear, we may allow people to share someone else's hate speech content to raise awareness or discuss whether the speech is appropriate to use, to use slurs self-referentially in an effort to reclaim the term, or for other similar reasons.”
Facebook is purely publishing statistics of its actions taken against hate speech without specifying the context and the situation. With growing time, we are also seeing an increasingly significant amount of users being wrongfully banned and several groups getting unnecessarily shut down without any prior intimation.