Facebook finally acts on gender-based hate speech

Facebook has bowed to pressure and agreed to change the way it monitors gender-based hate-speech, following a week of campaigning in which a number of brands pulled their ads from the social network in protest.

Facebook has bowed to pressure and agreed to change the way it monitors gender-based hate speech, following a week of campaigning in which a number of brands pulled their ads from the social network in protest.

For the past week Women, Action & the Media (WAM!), The Everyday Sexism Project writer and activist Soraya Chemaly, and more than 40 other groups, have been encouraging Facebook users to target advertisers whose ads appear next to the anti-women content.

With over 60,000 tweets being sent in one week to advertisers including Virgin America, Zappos, and American Express, Facebook could not continue to risk losing more, or have its reputation further damaged.

Having made no public statement initially, Facebook broke its silence Tuesday night, putting out a statement on its site that acknowledges the current systems it has in place to identify and remove hate speech have “failed to work as effectively as we would like, particularly around issues of gender-based hate.”

It added that in some cases, offensive content was not being removed fast enough, and in other cases it was been evaluated using “outdated criteria.”

As a result, Facebook is reevaluating what constitutes violations of its community standards, working with legal experts and women's groups to better identify gender-related hate speech. It will update the training for moderators who review posts to ensure they identify areas for concern. It also plans to increase the accountability of the creators of hate speech content.

Yesterday, Jaclyn Friedman of WAM! told PRWeek it was very close to reaching an agreement with Facebook, which, while it had largely ignored the media on the subject, had been in close touch with campaigners since Friday.

Friedman told PRWeek on Tuesday, “We're thrilled Facebook has taken this historic step, and are very much looking forward to helping them become a leader in combating gender-based hate speech on the web.”

A statement from WAM!, the Everyday Sexism Project, and Chemaly on WAM!'s website praised Facebook's stance on the issue.

“Facebook has already been a leader on the internet in addressing hate speech on its service,” the statement said. “We believe this is the foundation for an effective working collaboration designed to confront gender-based hate speech effectively.”

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