- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Facebook removed more content for hate speech violations during a recent three-month span than all of last year, the social networking company reported Tuesday.

Additionally, Facebook said it has updated its hate speech policies to prohibit blackface and depicting Jewish people as “running the world or controlling major institutions.”

The announcement came on the heels of several major U.S. companies pulling their ads from Facebook in a boycott sparked by concerns of hate speech running rampant on the service.

Between April 2020 and June 2020, Facebook removed approximately 22.5 million pieces of content for violating its hate speech policies, the company wrote in its latest Community Standards Enforcement Report. That’s up from roughly 9.6 million pieces of content removed as hate speech during the previous quarter, and up from the 21.2 million pieces of content pulled the previous year, according to Facebook’s accounting.

Facebook credited the spike with improvements to the technology it uses to proactively detect and remove hateful content from the platform, including specifically expanding its automation capabilities to take action on more content posted in English, Spanish and Burmese.

The company similarly attributed the advancements with causing similar spike on its sister-service Instagram, which saw the amount of hateful content removed increase from 808,900 between January and March, to 3.3 million between April and June, according to Facebook.

Facebook’s policy against hate speech prohibits violent or dehumanizing speech, statements of inferiority, calls for exclusion or segregation based on protected characteristics and slurs.

Guy Rosen, Facebook’s vice present for integrity, announced in a blog post the policy has been updated to account for certain kinds of “implicit hate speech,” including blackface and stereotypes about Jews.

Specifically, new additions to Facebook’s hate speech policy includes “Caricatures of black people in the form of blackface,” as well as “Jewish people running the world or controlling major institutions such as media networks, the economy or the government,” according to its updated language.

“This type of content has always gone against the spirit of our hate speech policy, but it can be really difficult to take concepts especially those that are commonly expressed in imagery and define them in a way that allows our content reviewers based around the world to consistently and fairly identify violations,” explained Monika Bickert, Facebook’s vice president of content policy, Business Insider reported Tuesday.

Coca-Cola and Starbucks were among major corporations that pulled ads from Facebook in July as part of the month-long “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign launched following the racially charged death in late May of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Organizers of the effort announced afterward that several participants planned to continue boycotting Facebook indefinitely.

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