The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent

Free Speech

Facebook Discriminating Against Whites, Males, Americans in Its "Hate Speech" Policy

Speech targeting whites, males, and Americans would be less likely to be blocked as "hate speech," the Washington Post reports.


From the article by Elizabeth Dwoskin, Nitasha Tiku & Heather Kelly (I'm linking to the copy that is on the Boston Globe site, and is thus not as heavily paywalled):

In the first phase of the project, which was announced internally to a small group in October, engineers said they had changed the company's systems to deprioritize policing contemptuous comments about "whites," "men" and "Americans." Facebook still considers such attacks to be hate speech, and users can still report it to the company. However, the company's technology now treats them as "low-sensitivity"—or less likely to be harmful—so that they are no longer automatically deleted by the company's algorithms. That means roughly 10,000 fewer posts are now being deleted each day, according to the documents.

The story asserts that existing practices "resulted in the company being more vigilant about removing slurs lobbed against white users while flagging and deleting innocuous posts by people of color on the platform," but doesn't offer much by way of specific details. And in any event, the new policy appears to be overtly aimed at treating "contemptuous comments about 'whites,' 'men,' and 'Americans'" differently than "slurs directed at Black people, Muslim people, people of more than one race, the LGBTQ community, and Jewish people"—not at treating speech targeted at different races, sexes, nationalities, religions, and the like equally.