What Does Facebook Consider Hate Speech? Take Our Quiz – The New York Times

Gives a good sense of the criteria Facebook uses,  allowing more than what I would consider hate speech.

Take the quiz at their website for the contrast between Facebook, your responses as well as NYT readers (spoiler alert: Facebook classified half of these as hate speech, I classified 5 of the 6):

Have you ever seen a post on Facebook that you were surprised wasn’t removed as hate speech? Have you flagged a message as offensive or abusive but the social media site deemed it perfectly legitimate?

Users on social media sites often express confusion about why offensive posts are not deleted. Paige Lavender, an editor at HuffPost, recently described her experience learning that a vulgar and threatening message she received on Facebook did not violate the platform’s standards.

Here are a selection of statements based on examples from a Facebook training document and real-world comments found on social media. Most readers will find them offensive. But can you tell which ones would run afoul of Facebook’s rules on hate speech?

Hate speech is one of several types of content that Facebook reviews, in addition to threats and harassment. Facebook defines hate speech as:

  1. An attack, such as a degrading generalization or slur.
  2. Targeting a “protected category” of people, including one based on sex, race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, and serious disability or disease.

Facebook’s hate speech guidelines were published in June by ProPublica, an investigative news organization, which is gathering users’ experiences about how the social network handles hate speech.

Danielle Citron, an information privacy expert and professor of law at the University of Maryland, helped The New York Times analyze six deeply insulting statements and determine whether they would be considered hate speech under Facebook’s rules.

  1. “Why do Indians always smell like curry?! They stink!”
  2. “Poor black people should still sit at the back of the bus.”
  3. “White men are assholes.”
  4. “Keep ‘trans’ men out of girls bathrooms!”
  5. “Female sports reporters need to be hit in the head with hockey pucks.”
  6. “I’ll never trust a Muslim immigrant… they’re all thieves and robbers.”

Did any of these answers surprise you? You’re probably not alone.

Ms. Citron said that even thoughtful and robust definitions of hate speech can yield counterintuitive results when enforced without cultural and historic context.

“When you’re trying to get as rulish as possible, you can lose the point of it,” she said. “The spirit behind those rules can get lost.”

A Facebook spokeswoman said that the company expects its thousands of content reviewers to take context into account when making decisions, and that it constantly evolves its policies to keep up with changing cultural nuances.

In response to questions for this piece, Facebook said it had changed its policy to include age as a protected category. While Facebook’s original training document states that content targeting “black children” would not violate its hate speech policy, the company’s spokeswoman said that such attacks would no longer be acceptable.

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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