Facebook to delete 66K 'hate speech' posts per week in crackdown


Facebook is cracking down on potential instances of what it calls “hate speech” by adding thousands of employees to delete offensive posts, the company announced in a blog post Tuesday.

“Our current definition of hate speech is anything that directly attacks people based on what are known as their “protected characteristics” — race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender, gender identity, or serious disability or disease,” said Richard Allan, Facebook vice president of public policy for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “There is no universally accepted answer for when something crosses the line. Although a number of countries have laws against hate speech, their definitions of it vary significantly.”

The Menlo Park, California, company says it mostly relies on its nearly two billion users to report any hateful posts they see. Workers then review the posts and decide whether to delete them.

Facebook will hire an additional 3,000 people to its community operations team to aid in efforts to review posts that could violate the network’s standards, Allan added. The company already has 4,500 employees dedicated to reviewing reported content.

The blog post said that, while deleting posts deemed offensive to others “can feel like censorship,” Facebook is working to improve its filtering processes and maintain transparency about its standards. Allan added Facebook is “experimenting” with technologies that could eventually help to automatically filter offensive language.

Earlier this month, Facebook highlighted its efforts to combat terrorism online through a combination of artificial intelligence and trained experts. The company said it has more than 150 employees dedicated to counter-terrorism.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.