#childsafety | Facebook expands hate speech rules in ads, but regular racist posts are still OK

Facebook has had enough of hate speech… well, in ads, at least.  

The company’s founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, a slew of new policies on Friday meant to combat incendiary rhetoric and misinformation.

Going forward, Facebook will now ban hate speech from its advertising platform. The company says the goal is to create a “higher standard” of content for its ads and prohibit divisive rhetoric.

“Today we’re prohibiting a wider category of hateful content in ads,” said Zuckerberg. “Specifically, we’re expanding our ads policy to prohibit claims that people from a specific race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, caste, sexual orientation, gender identity or immigration status are a threat to the physical safety, health or survival of others.” 

Zuckerberg pointed out that Facebook has typically banned certain types of content from its ad platform that are normally allowed in regular posts. And that’s the same case here. 

If Facebook effectively enforces its own rules, you won’t see ads with hate speech on the platform, but may still see hateful posts in your News Feed. (For regular posts, Facebook only bans “direct” attacks — defined as “violent or dehumanizing speech, statements of inferiority, or calls for exclusion or segregation” — on protected groups.)

This isn’t the first time the company has “expanded” its definition of hate. Last year, it reversed to allow white nationalist rhetoric. 

Why did they allow it in the first place? Because the company defined it as separate from content about white supremacy, which was already banned on the site.

Overall, Facebook tends to ban only the most explicitly clear violations of its Community Standards.

The Facebook founder also announced it was “expanding” policies to “protect immigrants, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers from ads suggesting these groups are inferior or expressing contempt, dismissal or disgust directed at them.”

The company has defended not banning hateful posts from politicians and other public figures because they’re newsworthy. According to Facebook, this will no longer be the case.

“Even if a politician or government official says it, if we determine that content may lead to violence or deprive people of their right to vote, we will take that content down,” said Zuckerberg. “There are no exceptions for politicians in any of the policies I’m announcing here today.”

It’s important to point out the reference Facebook’s CEO is making there. Zuckerberg is to another one of Facebook’s many controversies: allowing politicians to in political ads.

Quite frankly, its new hate speech policy is only as good as Facebook’s desire to enforce it. Take the aforementioned white supremacy ban, for example. Far-right groups are on Facebook’s platform. 

Facebook is feeling the heat. At the beginning of the month, the social media platform was hit with a wave of criticism for its to not take action against Trump’s inflammatory posts against Black Lives Matter protesters. Zuckerberg said the company was going to take a few weeks to review its policies surrounding content that could incite violence.

Now, just weeks after Facebook was raked over the coals, it’s facing a major advertiser boycott. Companies including Verizon, Unilever, and Patagonia have pledged to halt advertising over the spread of hateful posts. 

And to reiterate: Facebook banned hate speech in ads, but you might still see it in regular posts — unless the company decides they might incite violence. 

So, basically, Facebook will allow… non-violent hate speech? That seems to be splitting hairs. Good luck enforcing it, Mark.


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