Facebook considers censorship of gender-based hate speech

Facebook admitted it had not done enough to remove hate speech directed at women as advertisers including Nissan withdrew from the site and women’s groups stepped up protests. (The New York Times, May 28, 2013, by Tanzina Vega)

As an independent publisher Facebook has the right to decide the content that appears on its site and attempts to do it responsibly but Facebook also provides a huge forum that requires them to support a free-wheeling exchange of views, however, unsavory some may be. Thus, argues Jay Stanley for the American Civil Liberties Union, May 30, 2013, Facebook would be best served by resisting pressures for censorship and maintain a free speech forum.

In the New Republic, Jeffrey Rosen, April 29, 2013, described the challenges hate speech posed for the social media especially given the diverse viewpoints and values of other countries. Rosen attended a meeting in Silicon Valley where representatives of the social media tussled with the problem. Rosen concluded that the companies should make their guidelines for removing hate speech more in line with actual practice. “Meanwhile,” said Rosen, “the quest for the perfect screening system continues. Some of the Internet companies are exploring the possibility of a deploying an algorithm that could predict whether a given piece of content is likely to cause violence in a particular region, based on patterns of violence in the past. But hoping that the machines will one day police themselves amounts to wishful thinking. It may be that U.S. constitutional standards, applied by fickle humans, are the best way of preserving an open Internet.” -db