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.

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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.

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  1. Interesting question. Does the Civil Rights Act forbid discrimination by a privately owned Internet forum against protected groups, or do the forum’s First Amendment rights trump the Civil Rights Act? I would tend to assume the latter result simply because one is in the Constitution and the other comes from statute.

    1. Better argument to apply it to social media with millions of users than mom & pop pizza place in the middle of nowhere.

      1. Yeah, Constitution shmonstitution!

        1. Just saying based on how the law is applied currently. There is no logic behind applying it to a tiny store with lots of competition providing the exact same services and not social media companies whose networks can’t be replicated. If the civil rights act should be overturned for being unconstitutional is separate from if it applies.

    2. It depends on whether the internet forum is still a private entity or whether it has crossed the line to a “public accommodation”. If private, the CRA does not apply. If deemed a public accommodation, the owner’s rights become moot.

      The Supreme Court has upheld the public accommodation clause several times but their legal reasoning when doing so was remarkably weak. And the legal reasoning for why A is a public accommodation but B is completely arbitrary from what I can tell.

      1. If the BH administration were honest about net neutrality, they would insist that megasites such as Facebook are to be treated as common carriers.

      2. “Public accomodation” includes privately run companies. Restaurants and theaters are the classic examples.

        The term “public accomodation” has been construed expansively, far beyond what it was intended to cover. Would it cover Facebook? One can only guess. (There are a number of cases holding that Facebook is NOT a public accomodation under the Americans with Disability Act, since that requires a physical space, which the Facebook site is not. But the other parts of CRA do not require physical space.)

        1. “There are a number of cases holding that Facebook is NOT a public accomodation under the Americans with Disability Act, since that requires a physical space, which the Facebook site is not.”

          Ummm, would you have a citation on any of those cases?

          I ask because everything I have seen — and been told by lawyers purporting to be experts in the field — is that web pages are required to be ADA accessible. That you had to make it compliant for the screen readers used by the blind.

          As technology has improved, this may not be the issue it was 20 years ago, and it may only apply to the public sector, but I’ve never seen anything limiting ADA to physical space. In fact, I vaguely remember a PSA involving two deaf girls using a TTY to order a pizza.

          1. Young v. Facebook, Inc., 790 F. Supp. 2d 1110 (N.D. Cal. 2011).

            According to that Court, the Ninth Circuit requires that a public accomodation be a physical space, which Facebook is not.

            However, later the Ninth Circuit held that a website may be a public accomodation if it has a connection to a physical space. See Robles v. Domino’s Pizza, LLC, 913 F.3d 898, 905 (9th Cir. 2019) (concluding that Domino’s website is a “place of public accommodation” because “Domino’s website and app facilitate access to the goods and services of a place of public accommodation—Domino’s physical restaurants”).

            So like a lot of things in the law, the answer is “it depends.” Facebook is not a public accomodation because its website has connection to any physical space that offers a service to the public. A pizza chain website does.

            See Strojnik v. Kapalua Land Co., No. 19-00077 SOM-KJM, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 165525 (D. Haw. Aug. 26, 2019) (distinguishing between a website for a hotel, which would be a public accomodation, and a website that merely connects users to various hotel chains, which is not).

            From my review of the cases, it seems that other Circuits have a broader view than the Ninth.

            1. Interesting — I’m not in the 9th and never heard of this.

              Thank you.

    3. I don’t know if the first amendment of the company owners trumps that (it should) but these companies are not operating under their own free will.

      They are under threat from politicians threatening to hurt them for not censoring harrassment and other items, which, conveniently, includes the tweets of their political opponents as first among equals.

      Kamala Harris, the strongest threatener of the first amendment rights, according to the Democratic debates, attmpting to ban harrassment, is in a terrifyingly close position of power to do something about it.

      If such trashing of the First Amendment escapes the Supreme Court, perhaps due to packing, all the hot air against Trump, even if presumed accurate, will fade to a tiny dot compared to this volcanic eruption burning its way through the US Constitution.

      1. Krayt, calm down. Just try to re-imagine Facebook as an outlandishly powerful, even monopolistic, private publisher. It gets to publish what it wants to publish, and not publish what it doesn’t want to publish. Nobody gets to interfere with speech content. All entirely legal, well-precedented, not novel, and 1A friendly.

        But Facebook doesn’t get to stay a monopoly. Break it up, or shrink it down. Problem solved. No need to resort to extremes, like censorship, or government-mandated speech. Should work fine for everyone—unless there are some folks who like the idea of the monopoly, so long as they can get in on it, and maybe get government to compel the monopolist to feature their speech.

        1. How is it a monopoly? (Be specific – What’s the market? How much market share does it have? Who are its customers? How are they harmed by its supposed monopoly status?)

          1. Squirrelloid, the monopoly is not among readers. It is among ad sales providers. I don’t know the market share, but it is too high, as demonstrated by the ongoing, nationwide collapse of better-quality publishing competitors, deprived of ad sales by Facebook and a few other online publishers with similar publish-everything business plans.

            Readers and authors are then harmed in turn, by deprivation of sufficient variety and profusion among publishers—a defect which puts a few private publishers (and only a few) in a position to practice what amounts to censorship—something never previously (before the internet) seen in U.S. publishing. That danger of censorship, of course, is the subject of this thread.

            1. The figure I heard circa 2019 (i.e. pre-Covid) was that 90% of all new advertising dollars went to either Facebook or Google.

              That’s more of a monopoly than Standard Oil had.

              1. facebook + google is ~50% of digital advertising (which isn’t even all advertising). Even if that was one company, that’s not a monopoly. (And it’s not one company – it’s two).

            2. First of all, Google plus Facebook account for only about 50% of digital advertising (51.3% specifically, see https://www.t4.ai/industry/internet-advertising-market-share). Other major players include Alibaba, Amazon, Tencent, and Baidu. Lesser players than the named cumulatively account for over 25% of the digital advertising space. That’s not a monopoly — it’s not even close.

              Second, the market isn’t just ‘digital advertising’, it’s all advertising, which still includes TV ads, print ads (they still exist, mostly via mailers), and billboards (not intended to be exhaustive). Digital advertising is just a major component of a larger advertising market.

              Third, advertising is not the only business model for publishers (and you mean specifically news publishers here – most publishers aren’t in the advertising business). Innovate or die shouldn’t be a dirty phrase – its how markets work.

              Fourth, advertising revenue is just a scapegoat here for the failures of legacy news organizations. They’re losing out to more nimble alternatives who provided consumers what they wanted. (Sad fact, not only do the majority of consumers not want unbiased media, but legacy media wasn’t unbiased to begin with, although it used to be better at pretending it was. It got out competed by newer media providing the biased takes readers apparently wanted, and publications like the New York Times have responded by making their bias increasingly apparent. But that means they have less market share than they used to have, because there’s more choices for consumers to choose among.)

              1. Related to point 2, digital advertising is a little more than half of all advertising (~56%, as measured by revenue for all digital advertising and all advertising globally).

      2. I have a feeling that Kamala Harris will be another Andrew Johnson.

    4. I doubt federal or state civil rights laws can apply to Facebook’s discriminatory censorship policy. But Federal and State contracting laws which require vendors certify to they don’t discriminate might. I don’t know how much revenue Facebook gets from advertising from government entities but it could be substantial.

      Trump could conceivably issue an executive order banning all federal advertising on facebook due to their discriminatory policy.

  2. Poor white American males. It must be tough being white, American, and male…

    1. Harder than being a female disabled american. No slack from college professors or teachers based on sex. Nothing but merit to get you that foot in the door at a job. Companies can fire you without fear of discrimination suits. I’m glad I wasn’t born one. Life’s hard enough without being discriminated based on features I have no control over.

    2. “Poor white American males. It must be tough being white, American, and male…”

      It’s not bad. Of course, we used to have laws and policies that made it even better, but we got rid of them because we were told that it was wrong to treat people differently based on race and gender.

      Now if that turns out not to be true…

      1. Of course it’s still. It’s just more true for some than for others.

    3. Martinned: Not that tough — but neither is it tough for me to be a Jew in America today (certainly not in L.A.), yet I’d be pretty upset if Facebook treated anti-ethnic-Jew speech differently than, say, anti-Palestinian speech, or anti-religious-Jew speech differently than, say, anti-Muslim speech. Unequal treatment can be galling even when the result isn’t really that “tough.”

      1. Professor Volokh
        galled by unequal treatment
        (unless . . . Artie Ray).

        1. Sob sob sob.
          What a deceitful whiner.

          1. The facts prevail;
            a bigoted sycophant
            can whine anyway

            1. Yes, they facts prevail, but they aren’t on your side. And yes, you continue to whine anyway.

            2. Keep whining Reverend

              1. This blog’s high horseman
                Is a hypocrite, coward;
                then I counterpunch

                1. Is it a medical condition? It’s much more understandable (even if pitiable) were that Btfsplk-style cloud of stench not because of your terrible lack of hygiene. Of course, it could be both; perhaps this is your strategy to make sure no one is next to you on the bus.

        2. I’m not sure just what EV did to you Kirkland, but I am glad it really hurts.

          1. He engaged in repeated, partisan, viewpoint-driven censorship.

            Which he was entitled to do.

            But it makes him a curious candidate to climb a high horse as an ostensible champion of freedom of expression, sniping against others’ perceived shortcomings with respect to censorship.

            People — especially those who might take his professor’s position at a legitimate institution to indicate he might be a credible critic — should know the context.

        3. “(unless . . . Artie Ray).”

          Kirkland’s working furiously on his movie, Me, Artie Ray, and Eugene. Quite a demotion, from Al Pacino to Jim Carrey.

          1. Are you sure it’s not “deplorable and deplorabler”?

            1. or “Artie Ray Peeve Detective”?

        4. There once was a troll name of Art
          Who with his style made a new start
          He started writing verse
          But his comments were still the worst –
          The verbal equivalent of a giant fart.

          1. Ug, if you’re going to resort to limericks, at least make them scan! If Reverend One-Note can follow the rules for haiku (sad american version), you can accomplish that much. You have the rhythm of a one-footed rabbit with its tail in an electric socket.

            1. Actually the form is more akin to Senryu than Haiku.

              1. Yes. I did say ‘sad american version’, since that’s what most Americans think of as Haiku.

          2. More like this:

            There once was a troll named Art
            Whose style needed a restart
            He recast it in Haiku,
            Which he knew how to do,
            But the content was just a sad fart.

            AABBA rhyme scheme, and A lines need to be longer than B lines.

            1. Your rabbit at least has two legs, but his tail’s still in the socket. I cry for our education system.

              Limericks depend on a ‘galloping’ emphasis pattern using anapest feet. (Limericks permit a slight uneveness – an occasional iamb instead of an anapest is fine, as can be an extra soft syllable at the end of a line.)

              Massaging this unfortunate nonsense to less offend my ears: (The last line is only barely acceptable)

              There once was a troll named Art
              With a style that failed to impart
              He recast in Haiku
              Which he knew how to do
              But the message still stunk like a fart

      2. Exactly so, Prof. V (in your reply to Martinned) — Plus, practices like this teach us that anti-ethnic and anti-racial and anti-religious slurs aren’t bad in themselves; it depends on who the target is. They are acceptable if they are directed against Group A, but not if they are directed against Group B. That’s the way we used to think. It wasn’t that long ago that you could express anti-Jewish, anti-“Colored”, or anti-[Insert derogatory term of choice for ethnic group or religious group] slurs in “polite” society and no one would bat an eye. I think slurs against ANY group should be unacceptable in polite society — even White Heterosexual WASP Males. I also think that such slurs should not be prohibited by the Government. How “public accommodations” should be treated for 1A purposes is the hard part.

        1. Eric, it’s technologically possible for your telephone company to monitor your cell or landline phone for certain words. Should they be permitted to shut off your phone if you use a slur word?

          TELCOs are considered “common carriers” and I argue that Farcebook is the same.

      3. Just exercise that Libertarian free-market freedom and take your business to a different service. The market will sort it all out.

      4. EV, wow! That one I did not expect. What happened to the 1A fundamentalism?

        1. Did he say there should be government action, or was he as a private citizen criticizing a public companies policies?

          The difference between the two probably went over your head.

          1. Kazinski, I expect a frequent advocate of the virtues of, “harsh criticism,” to go unperturbed, even when harshness is directed toward his neighborhood. EV was ambiguous about whether some action ought to occur, which is new for him. Usually he stands quite firmly for the principle that practically any lacerating speech, however pointless, or lacking in identifiable public importance, is to be cherished and protected. In fact, EV’s advocacy seems at times to suggest he thinks the speech most worthy of protection is the most-pointless, most-socially-damaging, least-justifiable, no-public-purpose private animus—the kind of speech which is bound to actually bring speech freedom itself into public disrepute, and undermine support for the 1A.

            Seems like those are the kinds of cases EV seeks out to defend. I understand why civil liberties lawyers have long done something like that—the worse the speech, the stronger the precedent when it gets legal protection. But previously, the cases tended to involve connection—however tangential—to public policy. Nazis marching in Skokie might be publicly outrageous, but legally the outrageousness had to be mitigated by the difficulties of distinguishing less outrageous cases.

            Prior to the internet, that made sense. But it made sense mainly because mostly out of sight, and mostly outside the legal system, private editing was delivering a lot of public protection gratis, and thus relieving the legal system of thorny problems it never had to confront. Problems like would-be authors of nothing more than scurrilous private attacks, with no implications of any other sort. That, the internet has notably changed, by stripping away the custom of editing before publishing. It was private editing which kept those cases out of the courts.

            I do not understand why EV seems not to notice that the internet—with its profusion of no-editing publishing—has made it possible for the first time for published speech to sink to lows so abysmal they call out for modified legal principles. I suggest that the old legal tactic doesn’t work anymore. If the new kinds of legal cases—the kind newly served up by cost-free, world-wide publishing in the no-editing era—actually engender more hostility against speech freedom than any legal protection they deliver can offset, then that is not speech protection, but the opposite.

            1. “Kazinski, I expect a frequent advocate of the virtues of, “harsh criticism,” to go unperturbed, even when harshness is directed toward his neighborhood.”

              I’ve never heard EV extol the virtues of “harsh criticism,” just condemn censorship. So you’ve just murdered a lot of words for nothing.

    4. Poor triggered Martinned.

    5. OK, I’m convinced. I’m now onboard with wholesale denial of rights to anyone who’s white, male, or American. How wonderfully progressive!

    6. So legal rights should be determined by whether you feel sorry for the group in which the affected person is a part. Not particularly novel, but against hundreds of years of Anglo-American legal tradition.

    7. Our resident white Dutch male sneers again…

    8. You include Asians in the white category. Do you include really dark skinned African immigrants acting “white” in the white category? Is one of them, Obama, white?

    9. ” It must be tough being white, American, and male…”

      There are more people who are White, American, and male living in poverty than there are of other groups, and you’d realize this if you understood statistics.

  3. Until we see lynchings of white males, or a rash of black police officers shooting defenseless white males, or heavily armed black militias exercising their “Second Amendment Rights” against “Article I (i.e., white) Citizens” (as opposed to what the militias call “Fourteenth Amendment Citizens”), then I don’t see any problem.

    1. We do see lynchings of white males at every BLM riot. But big media no longer cover the riots because they support the crimes.

      1. You have no idea what a lynching is, do you?

        1. No, you don’t.

          The word comes from “Lynch Law” and from Charles Lynch & William Lynch, who ruthlessly pursued Loyalists during the American Revolution.

      2. We do see lynchings of white males at every BLM riot.

        Unless you’re using “lynching” in some metaphorical way, no, we don’t. Not even close.

    2. More white males are killed by the police than blacks, when controlling for the number of crimes.

      1. You can’t control for number of crimes because most crime is unsolved. Even murder is unsolved at least half the time. Of the crimes we do know about, blacks are exonerated twice as often, are let to without charge twice as often, etc.

        1. The black crime rate is 4 times higher, and validated by household surveys of crime victimization, the gold standard of crime measurement.

    3. “lynchings of white males,”

      Lynching? Got any thing that happened this millenium.

    4. I’d like to see you publicly acknowledge that if conditions were reversed — if cops discriminated more against whites than blacks — that you would think it perfectly cromulent to then discriminate against blacks because they don’t face as much discrimination as whites.

      A hypothetical. Go ahead, admit you think that just hunky dory.

    5. > …or a rash of black police officers shooting defenseless white males, or heavily armed black militias exercising their “Second Amendment Rights” against “Article I (i.e., white) Citizens” (as opposed to what the militias call “Fourteenth Amendment Citizens”), then I don’t see any problem.

      Step out of the echo chamber a bit you’ll see it. 2020 saw hordes of black militias parading around exercising their 2nd amendment right. Heck even one march resulted in a black militia shooting their own. Also, you should probably educate yourself on police statistics before speaking about it. White males are more likely to be shot and killed by police as DaivdBehar already points out to you.

    6. Of course, you would not see a problem. You’re blind to anything that might contradict your political views.

    7. Lynchings and police shootings of blacks are actually exceedingly rate, and of other groups protected by the Civil Rights Act (sex, religion) virtually non-existent. By your reasoning, much of the Civil Rights Act should be abolished.

    8. There were more unarmed white males than unarmed black males killed by police in 2018. But of course, captcrisis only cares about things “we see,” not what actually happens, and the shootings of unarmed white males are not normally publicized. They are just statistics, and their lives don’t matter to captcrisis and his friends.

  4. It has become more than apparent overy the last year (the election year) from what we have seen in the social media that Facebook Discriminating Against Whites, Males, Americans in Its “Hate Speech” Policy. I would also add to that list, conservatives and Trump republicans. I will also challenge the use of the terms ‘white’ and ‘males’ and Americans to describe the class(es) being discriminated against. I challenge these terms because it is not every ‘white’ nor males, nor American’ that was discriminated against. It was only these who were not part of the “woke” movement who were discriminated against in these categories mentioned.

    1. Conservatives and republicans, unfortunately, are not protected groups in most of the country. And no, being a woketard does not protect you from hostile actions by Antifa or other woketards.

  5. Facebook is currently being sued by the DoJ for discrimination against Americans in hiring. Not a great time for a story about Facebook giving the thumbs up to hate speech targeting Americans.

    I assume the Biden DoJ will make Facebook’s hiring discrimination problems magically disappear as a special thanks for burying the Hunter story in October.

    1. Could well be.
      Zuckerberg is scum, who knows whose ass to kiss.

  6. Facebook and the other tech platforms are not really private companies, with users as their guests. They are essential public utility services, like water, electricity. As discrimination would not be tolerated in the delivery of those utilities, so should these platforms be treated as public services and not as private companies. The First Amendment and discrimination laws should apply.

    1. I disagree. Facebook isn’t a utility.

      If you live in a city, the government says you must have running water to your building, and there is usually exactly one company that provides this water. (It wouldn’t make sense to have 50 sets of pipes running underground, after all.) So that company isn’t allowed to discriminate.

      But you want to make a new Facebook? Nobody’s stopping you.

      1. My new Facebook would not reach 3 billion people. It is the only place to go for advertising a business or anything else. As an advertiser, I would no longer bother with TV or with newspapers. Facebook will deliver my ad to people interested in my ad, and not to others.

        I can buy Perrier, but to live a decent life, I need running water from my water utility. Facebook is not a utility now. It should be declared a utility, and regulated as such, including its rates.

  7. Its like they want to get rid of Section 230.

  8. Like George Orwell said: “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.”

  9. Lathering the rubes
    White, male, right-wing legal blog
    Lathering the rubes

    1. Empty tale
      told by an idiot
      signifying nothing.

  10. Our Eugene’s Prez pick
    has today stooped to peddling
    krakenpot theories.

    1. Once again you lie deliberately.

      1. The sycophants’ plight
        is to be demonstrated
        a dope, and often

        #OpenWiderClinger

        1. Dog eats his vomit
          Fool repeats folly
          Kirkland affirms the Bible.

        2. How pathetic you are. You’re a disgrace to the yellowdogs,

  11. From race to lockdowns to how powerful men treat women, are there ANY Democrats that do ANYTHING other than TALK????

    Is there ONE that walks the walk?

    Is there not ONE righteous man in Sodom?

    1. They’re salt of the earth and pillars of the community.

  12. Speaking of Ted Cruz’ greatest feat of grandstanding since he got cucked to the core over the issue of his wife’s reportedly hideous visage . . . are you dumbasses tired of winning yet?

  13. This makes me glad I am Black.

    1. You are highly privileged in employment and in college admissions. My daughter identified as African American and got a full ride. It works! All of us are really from Africa, the birth place of our species.

  14. “The people I bully are being mean and nobody’s doing anything about it!!!”

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