Facebook is giving $500,000 in funding over five years to Ontario Tech University’s Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism to create what it calls the “Global Network Against Hate.”
According to CBC News, the network is being tasked with spotting emerging trends in online extremism and developing strategies, policies, and tools to counter them.
And apparently, one of these emerging trends that the Global Network Against Hate will be focusing on is the coronavirus.
The director of the Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism, Barbara Perry, claims that the coronavirus is likely to drive a wave of online hate postings in Canada and elsewhere over the coming months.
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Perry adds that the spread of extremism and conspiracy theories online has clear connections to real-world events in Canada.
“The COVID lockdowns are going to exacerbate the patterns that we have already seen,” she said.
The head of public policy for Facebook Canada, Kevin Chan, said that he hopes the partnership with Ontario Tech will help the social network better understand emerging trends and “stay one step ahead of them.”
The announcement follows Facebook making a series of changes this year that have resulted in the mass censorship of content that’s deemed to be “hate” or “coronavirus misinformation.”
Former content moderators have revealed inconsistencies in the way Facebook applies its “hate speech” rules with some posts being granted special exceptions.
And when it comes to misinformation, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has defended the platform’s policy of removing what it deems to be misinformation, even if it doesn’t lead to physical harm.
More than 7 million pieces of what Facebook deems to be “misleading or false content related to the coronavirus” were removed from Facebook and Instagram between April and June.
And every quarter, millions of posts are removed from Facebook for hate speech with 89% of these posts being taken automatically by Facebook’s “proactive detection technology” before users reports report it.