What Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others are doing to tackle hate speech

by admin August 16, 2017 at 9:45 am

This weekend’s events in Charlottesville, VA left one person dead, 30 people injured and poured more kerosene onto the fire of national debate around hate groups and free speech.

For all the decades of talk about the internet as a great uniter across geographical and ideological divides, it’s just as often used as a tool to deepen divides, as many users are content to stay within their ideological echo chambers. There’s no easy fix, of course, but when hateful rhetoric begins to manifest itself as real-world violence, a failure to take a stand moves beyond theoretical.

In the wake of recent events, more companies are making their stance on the issue known, whether by choice or due to the threat of public accountability or boycott. Whatever the case, it’s clear that most public companies don’t want to be viewed as propping up hate groups. On Monday, GoDaddy announced it was cancelling Daily Stormer’s domain registration, and Google quickly followed suit, stating that the neo-Nazi news site violated its terms of service. Responding to social pushback, Zoho and SendGrid also cut ties with the site.

The president’s initial ineffectual response to the events that led to the killing of counter-protester Heather Heyer have resulted in the withdrawal of executives from Trump’s advisory council. Earlier today, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich stepped down, writing, “I resigned because I wanted to make progress, while many in Washington seem more concerned with attacking anyone who disagrees with them.”

In the wake of all of this news, we’ve reached out to a number of top sites to gauge what proactive steps they’re taking to address the rising tide of online hate speech.

Facebook: A spokesperson provided the following statement. “Our hearts go out to the people affected by the tragic events in Charlottesville. Facebook does not allow hate speech or praise of terrorist acts or hate crimes, and we are actively removing any posts that glorify the horrendous act committed in Charlottesville.” The site has also reportedly removed a number of pages since this weekend, featuring names like “Right Wing Death Squad” and “White Nationalists United.” 

Kickstarter: A spokesperson for the company pushed back on a recent report that its policies have changed in the wake of this weekend’s events. “To be clear,” the spokesperson told TechCrunch, “there’s been no change on our stance. Our policies have never allowed hate speech and projects that promote it are not permitted on Kickstarter.” The site’s guidelines specifically prohibit projects that promote “Offensive material (e.g., hate speech, encouraging violence against others, etc).”