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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Facebook Says It Is Updating Hate Speech Policies to Include ‘Stereotypes About Jewish People Controlling the World’

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Facebook announced in an Aug. 11 statement that the social media giant will be updating its hate speech policies to include “stereotypes about Jewish people controlling the world.”

The statement promoted Facebook’s latest Community Enforcement Standards report on how its policies were enforced from April to June.

“Our proactive detection rate for hate speech on Facebook increased 6 points from 89% to 95%. In turn, the amount of content we took action on increased from 9.6 million in Q1 to 22.5 million in Q2,” the statement read. “This is because we expanded some of our automation technology in Spanish, Arabic and Indonesian and made improvements to our English detection technology in Q1.”

Facebook has developed new teams and task forces, such as the Facebook Inclusive Product and the Diversity Advisory Council, to ensure that the platform fosters an inclusive environment.

“We’re also updating our policies to more specifically account for certain kinds of implicit hate speech, such as content depicting blackface, or stereotypes about Jewish people controlling the world,” the statement read. “We also continued to prioritize the removal of content that violates our policy against hate groups. Since October 2019, we’ve conducted 14 strategic network disruptions to remove 23 different banned organizations, over half of which supported white supremacy.”

The social media giant’s statement added that Facebook’s reports will start being subjected to third-party audits in 2021 to ensure that their statistics are accurate.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, we’ll continue adapting our content review process and working to improve our technology and bring more reviewers back online,” the statement concluded.

Arsen Ostrovsky, executive director of the Israeli-Jewish Congress, tweeted, “Bravo @Facebook for announcing this new policy to tackle hate speech on your platform. It is certainly a step in right direction. But insofar as #Antisemitism is concerned, it is imperative that next, Facebook #AdoptIHRA [International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance] definition as a base standard.”

On Aug. 7, 128 Jewish and pro-Israel organizations signed a letter posted to the Stop Anti-Semitism.org website calling on Facebook to adopt the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, which states that certain criticisms of Israel are anti-Semitic.

“The full IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism provides Facebook an effective, neutral, and nuanced tool to protect Jewish users from hate speech and imagery that incites hate and oftentimes leads to violence,” the letter stated. “While the impact of online hate speech, misinformation, and disinformation on our society continues to be researched and explored, we cannot afford to lose any more time in fighting this bigotry and preventing violence.”

Monika Bickert, head of global policy management at Facebook, wrote in a letter to Stop Anti-Semitism.org on Aug. 11 that Facebook has found the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism to be “valuable” in crafting its hate speech policies.

“In some respects, our Community Standards go further than the IHRA definition — for example, expressions of dismissal (e.g. ‘I don’t like Jews’),” Bickert wrote. “Under this policy, Jews and Israelis are treated as ‘protected characteristics’ — with the result that we remove attacks against them when identified by our proactive detection technology or reported to us by one of the more than 2.6 billion people who use Facebook around the world.”

Stop Anti-Semitism.org thanked Facebook for responding to them.

“We look forward to working with @Facebook to ensure #antisemitism is eradicated from your platform and the #IHRA definition is fully adopted by your organization,” the watchdog group added.

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