Facebook has promised to update its processes for moderating user content after thousands of protesters raised concerns about content on the social network that portrays violence against women.
The protesters, including women's groups Women, Action and the Media (WAM), and the Everyday Sexism Project, launched a campaign last Tuesday calling on Facebook to take action against gender-based hate on its website. Since then, the protesting groups have grown to over 100 women's organisations, who have sent over 60,000 tweets and 5,000 emails.
Facebook has now accepted that its systems for removing hate speech were not adequate, and has promised to improve its processes.
Facebook global public policy vice president Marne Levine, said: "In some cases content is not being removed as quickly as we want. In other cases content that should be removed has not been, or has been evaluated using outdated criteria. We have been working over the past several months to improve our systems to respond to reports of violations, but the guidelines used by these systems have failed to capture all the content that violates our standards. We need to do better – and we will."
Levine said the firm would be taking a number of immediate steps to improve its moderation standards. Teams that review and evaluate reports of hateful speech will be given updated guidelines and further training, she said. Additionally Facebook users will be held more accountable for the content they post.
"A few months ago we began testing a new requirement that the creator of any content containing cruel and insensitive humor include his or her authentic identity for the content to remain on Facebook. As a result, if an individual decides to publicly share cruel and insensitive content, users can hold the author accountable and directly object to the content. We will continue to develop this policy."
The measures Levine outlined match those the protesters were campaigning for. In order to exert additional pressure on Facebook to change its content moderation policies, the protesters had contacted a number of the social network's advertisers, asking them to pull their ads. These brands included Dove, American Express and Sky.
Jaclyn Friedman, WAM executive director, welcomed the action being taken by Facebook. "We are reaching an international tipping point in attitudes towards rape and violence against women. We hope that this effort stands as a testament to the power of collaborative action," she said.
"We are hopeful that this moment will mark an historic transition in relation to media and women's rights in which Facebook is acknowledged as a leader in fostering safer, genuinely inclusive online communities, setting industry precedents for others to follow."
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