Facebook Launches Campaign Against Extremist Speech

Open hand raised, Stop Hate Speech sign painted, multi purpose cFacebook announced a new campaign this week to fight extremism and hate speech in Europe. The campaign, called Online Civil Courage Initiative (OCCI), is a partnership between Facebook and several international groups. OCCI will work to fund NGOs that are already combating online extremism, develop best practices for dealing with it, and launch research to understand the roots of hate speech.

“We have repeatedly emphasized that Facebook is no place for the dissemination of xenophobia, hate speech or calls for violence. With this new initiative, we are convinced to better understand and respond to the challenges of extremist speech on the Internet,” Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg announced in Berlin.

Facebook will donate over $1 million to the initiative, though Sandberg was quick to point out that the social media giant can’t solve the problem overnight.

“Deleting content won’t make the hatred go away,” she said. “We can’t just treat the symptoms—we have to treat the cause.”

While it may seem ambitious for Facebook to tackle extremism itself, experts say that kind of grassroots work is essential to addressing it. Of course, this measure is a potential free speech violation waiting to happen, but at least the site is finally wading into one of the major problems that plague it.