Does Facebook’s Hate Speech Policy Protect White Men Over Others?

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FEATURING RAMESH SRINIVASAN – Just as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is celebrating the 2 billion-user mark for his social media outlet, an in-depth investigative report by Propublica has found that Facebook’s tools to filter out hate speech are deeply problematic.

A series of internal documents obtained by the investigative media outlet found that Facebook identifies “protected categories” of people based on “race, sex, gender identity, religious affiliation, national origin, ethnicity, sexual orientation and serious disability/disease.” But when users attack “subsets” of protected categories there is a lot of leeway.

Among the documents leaked were a set of slides that Facebook uses to to train its army of monitors. One particularly damning slide displays three photos of female drivers, black children, and white men. The questions asks, “which of the below subsets do we protect?” and the correct answer is apparently “white men.”

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Ramesh Srinivasan, Director of the Digital Cultures Lab and Associate Professor of Information Studies and Design and Media Arts at the University of California, Los Angeles. Author of Whose Global Village? Rethinking How Technology Shapes Our World.