Earlier this week, the women’s rights group Women, Action & The Media sent an open letter to Facebook demanding that they revise their policies regarding offensive content on the site. The group cited many instances of rape jokes, crude or sexist content and demeaning anti-women groups. In an almost unprecedented show of public apology, Facebook vice president Marne Levine published a post on Tuesday promising greater action from the site to stamp out hate speech.
“In recent days, it has become clear that our systems to identify and remove hate speech have failed to work as effectively as we would like, particularly around issues of gender-based hate,” she wrote. “We have been working over the past several months to improve our systems to respond to reports of violations, but the guidelines used by these systems have failed to capture all the content that violates our standards. We need to do better – and we will.”
She went on to lay out a step by step plan of how Facebook is going to improve its policing of hate speech. The plan includes:
- Soliciting feedback from legal experts and representatives from discriminated groups regarding Facebook’s Community Standards
- Updated training on finding offensive content
- Increased accountability for the creators of offensive content
- More direct and transparent communication with concerned groups
These promises from Facebook are a massive step forward for groups like WAM seeking changes on the site. While Facebook is undoubtedly striving to improve its image, it’s also dedicated to removing offensive content. No matter how you cut it, that’s a good thing.