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New Leaked Documents Have Revealed More About Facebook's Hate Speech Policies

ProPublica
In December, some of Facebook's policies on hate speech leaked to the public, revealing that in many aspects there approach were, to put it kindly, lax and to put it harshly, bigoted. They've been untangled that particular PR web for more than six months now, but now another leak has set them back even further.

On Wednesday, ProPublica published a new set of leaked documents, this time relating to moderator training. Among all the images revealed, the most damning was a multiple choice slide which gave three options asking which of them were 'subsets [they] protect': black children, women drivers and white men. White men was the correct answer.

The key thing to take away from that is that Facebook define a 'protected class' who are considered immune to extremist or inflammatory speech. In short, you're allowed to say hateful things about certain groups of people on Facebook, but not others.

The documents reveal that groups categorised by gender, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, ethnicity, gender identity or disability are protected. Meanwhile, groups defined by continental origin, social class, age, appearance, occupation or ideology are not protected, neither are religions or nations as a concept (so it's not OK to attack Jewish people but Judaism as a whole is fair game).

That sounds bad enough already but then you find out that a combination of a protected and not protect category in one statement equals not protected. For example, if you were to say "I hate black people", that's an attack on a protected group, so it's prohibited. However, if you were to say "I hate black children", age groups aren't protected, so it cancels it out and suddenly, as far as Facebook are concerned, what you're saying is fine.

ProPublica
This ridiculously backwards logic is, it would seem, the entire bedrock of Facebook's approach to moderation, and once you understand that, their continued failure to properly handle hate speech suddenly starts to make a lot more sense. There are caveats, specifically calls for exclusion, segregation or violence. Once that happens then the whole subset rule flies out the window, but anything less than that still takes this twisted logic onboard.

If you look hard enough, you'll find statements on the platform which could easily be regarded as calls for exclusion, segregation, violence or even all three which easily made it past this flimsy firewall. The perpetrators might not necessarily have even known that they were exploiting a loophole, and in a way that makes it even worse.

Facebook's stance on this kind of thing has long been clear: they don't have any obligation to police it, but these disturbing slides reveal that there's more going on here than just wilful apathy. Regardless of how responsible Facebook may or may not be for the way their two billion users behave, they simply aren't taking it seriously enough.



Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @Songbird_Callum

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New Leaked Documents Have Revealed More About Facebook's Hate Speech Policies Reviewed by Callum Davies on Friday, June 30, 2017 Rating: 5

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