According to multiple reports this week, Facebook is planning a major overhaul to its algorithms that detect hate speech. The company intends to reverse its racially-neutral policies toward detecting this speech, prioritizing the removal of messages that target users of color.
Previously, Facebook took comments about “Whites” and “men” as seriously as slurs denigrating Blacks, Muslims, the LGBTQ community and more. Now, the company will deprioritize the removal of speech targeting majority populations. This will doubtlessly be a controversial move, but it comes as good news to users of color who have had their accounts flagged or blocked for innocuous comments. One such user, Tamela Gordon, runs a private Facebook group for Black women that she says was continuously affected by the previous policy.
“We are constantly getting reported, getting banned, for content shared within the group as well as content shared outside the group,” she told The Washington Post. “In this group there are a lot of women in very desperate situations, dealing with things like domestic violence, extreme poverty. It’s hard knowing that we are being watched and that our expression is monitored and restricted.”
Of course, Facebook’s algorithm has made pretty serious mistakes with moderation before, so there’s a chance this could backfire somehow. But at least the company is stepping up its efforts to clean up offensive content on its platform.
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