Facebook: We Failed at Removing Hate Speech

May 30, 2013 15:40:44Posted by John Skorick, MyAKA Founder & CEO

Facebook: We Failed at Removing Hate Speech

In a somewhat surprising move, social network giant Facebook Inc. came forward to admit that it had failed to remove hate speech posted on the site in an appropriate time span. The announcement comes shortly after women's rights advocates called out the service for hate speech and several advertising companies pulled their brands from the site, according to Reuters. With Facebook admitting its own shortcomings, one must question the role social media plays in domestic violence and bullying.

The Incident
The issues for Facebook began last week, when a group called Women, Action and the Media wrote an open letter to the company regarding its standards for content promoting hate speech. The group said Facebook needed to rethink how it responded to content that "trivializes or glorifies violence against girls or women," the news source reports. The group then asked for Facebook members and advertisers to pull their support from the site.

The BBC reports that many people and companies joined the campaign, including such big names as Nissan, while Dove said it is working alongside Facebook to help revamp their strategy. A petition that received 225,049 signatures called on Facebook to "effectively train moderators to recognize and remove gender-based hate speech" and "understand how online harassment differently affects men and women, in part due to the real-world pandemic of violence against women."

Protecting Women Online
Abuse aimed at women can come in many forms. Verbal, sexual and physical assault are far too common, but online harassment is a growing factor that is affecting many women and girls. Fortunately, there are ways that women can protect themselves from cyber abuse.

Parents can step in to prevent online harassment by educating their daughters on how to stay safe on social networks. Children should be reminded to report any and all forms of harassment they are experiencing to an adult. It's also essential that they refrain from sharing private information. If a child lists his or her phone number on Facebook, it opens them up to harassment through text messages or phone calls. Equipping youngsters with a second phone number can help them avoid this issue.

Time will tell if Facebook is able to correct the way it addresses hate speech, but even if it does, young people must be educated on how to protect themselves while online.