Technology

Documents reveal Facebook policies on hate speech

Internal Facebook documents published by the investigative outlet ProPublica on Wednesday shed light on how the social media platform decides what speech to delete and what groups should be protected from inflammatory speech.

The report included a slideshow that explains that Facebook's content moderators should consider which groups of people are "protected," meaning that speech attacking them should be deleted from the network.

These groups include those defined by race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and disabilities. But age groups, political ideologies, social classes and "continental origins" are not protected.

Facebook also has a formula to guide its censors on which subsets of these groups are protected. A subset that is a combination of a protected class and a nonprotected class is not protected by Facebook's policies.

This rule is illustrated by a quiz slide that went viral Wednesday morning. It asks, "Which of the below subsets do we protect?" with the choices being female drivers, black children and white men.

The answer is "white men."

"The policies do not always lead to perfect outcomes," Monika Bickert, Facebook's head of global public policy, told ProPublica. "That is the reality of having policies that apply to a global community where people around the world are going to have very different ideas about what is OK to share."

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