- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Facebook is planning a hiring spree of 3,000 “hate speech” experts who will scour the social media platform for attacks on “protected characteristics.”

A user base of more than 2 billion people has pushed Facebook to define hate speech in a “Hard Questions” blog post by Richard Allan, VP EMEA Public Policy (Europe, the Middle East and Africa). The company laid out challenges that come with policing content across different cultures.

“People might disagree about the wisdom of a country’s foreign policy or the morality of certain religious teachings, and we want them to be able to debate those issues on Facebook. But when does something cross the line into hate speech?” Mr. Allanwrote 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.”

Mr. Allansaid its crop of 4,500 monitors will jump by over 65 percent while artificial intelligence continues to censor “the most obviously toxic language” reported.

“We’re committed to removing hate speech any time we become aware of it,” the executive said. “Over the last two months, on average, we deleted around 66,000 posts reported as hate speech per week — that’s around 288,000 posts a month globally.”

Mr. Allan said one of the company’s challenges involves understanding the proper context of flagged speech.

“People may reclaim offensive terms that were used to attack them,” Mr. Allan said. “When someone uses an offensive term in a self-referential way, it can feel very different from when the same term is used to attack them. For example, the use of the word ‘dyke’ may be considered hate speech when directed as an attack on someone on the basis of the fact that they are gay. However, if someone posted a photo of themselves with #dyke, it would be allowed.”

The company said mistakes would happen moving forward, but vowed to fix them as quickly as possible.

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