In January, Facebook announced a program called the Online Civil Courage Initiative that offers free advertising to activists who fight back against hate speech on the site. Now, Facebook announced this week that it will expand the program beyond its initial test run in Germany, France and the U.K. to include a broader array of groups.
Since the program’s creation, Facebook has dedicated €10,000 in advertising credits to these groups combating hate speech, and the site has pledged €1 million over two years. The theory behind the program is simple: not all hate speech can be caught and censored, so counter-speech efforts need to be made in order to stop its spread.
“Censorship is not effective,” Erin Saltman, program manager of Facebook’s Online Civil Courage Initiative, told The Wall Street Journal. “Conversations would start on mainstream platforms and migrate to less regulated, encrypted platforms.”
Facebook has faced pressure both in the United States and abroad to do more to fight terrorism, so this program is certainly a step in the right direction. Indeed, Facebook removed 38,000 pieces of content in the second half of 2015 alone at the behest of European governments. This organization also avoids potential censorship controversies, and that’s certainly a good thing.