Tuesday, January 24, 2017
Advocacy groups are accusing Facebook of "racially biased censorship"
Everybody wants to shut up everyone else, it seems
With almost 1.8 billion users, Facebook is constantly making decisions about what it allows on its social network and what gets nixed as hate speech.
On Wednesday, almost 80 advocacy groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, sent a letter to Facebook that takes issue with how the company makes those decisions. The letter (PDF) accuses Facebook of a lack of transparency and "racially biased censorship."
The groups allege that Facebook disproportionately censors posts from people of color, especially posts with political speech and critiques of law enforcement.
"Even as activists have been censored for political speech and for posting images critical of government actors -- including police officers -- Facebook's third-party complaint process has failed to prevent the spread of violent threats and harassment by white supremacist hate groups on your platform," the letter reads.
The "third-party complaint process" refers to Facebook's practice of hiring outside groups to sort through posts flagged as potential hate speech. In November, an NPR report said the contractors sometimes have 10 seconds to decide the fate of a piece of content.
A Facebook spokeswoman said the company received the letter and is reviewing it.