It’s time to regulate social media

According to Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg, holocaust deniers don’t really mean it. “I don’t think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong”, he says, explaining why so much hate speech remains online on Facebook.

The real reason, of course, is that hate speech makes money for Facebook. Hate platforms such as Infowars and articles about holocaust denial generate lots of page views and audience interaction, which is the lifeblood of any social network.

As the Irish Independent reports:

Moderators in Dublin were instructed not to remove extreme, abusive or graphic content from the platform even when it violated the company’s guidelines.

An undercover investigation found that while nudity is almost always removed, violent videos involving assaults on children, racially charged hate speech and images of self-harm by children all remained on Facebook after being reported by users and reviewed by moderators.

This, from the UK Independent:

far-right and racist content is given special protections that stop it being deleted quite so easily. Trainees are shown being told that content that racially abused protected ethnic or religious groups would be removed – but if that abuse is limited to immigrants from those groups, the posts would stay up.

In the footage, moderators are shown explaining that a post targeting Muslims with racist language would be removed, for instance. But if the posts specifically targeted Muslim immigrants, then that could be allowed to stay up because it is a political statement, Facebook has suggested.

Facebook, and other social networks, are out of control. They’ve proved beyond any doubt that self-regulation doesn’t work. The claim that Facebook isn’t a publisher is bullshit. It’s bigger than any newspaper or TV network, and it’s time it was regulated as such.