Facebook announced a plan this week to hire thousands of employees to aid the social media network’s effort to eliminate what it deems “hate speech” from users’ profiles.
“Our current definition of hate speech is anything that directly attacks people based on what are known as their ‘protected characteristics’ — race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender, gender identity, or serious disability, or disease,” Richard Allan, Facebook’s vice president of public policy for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, wrote in a blog post.
“There is no universally accepted answer for when something crosses the line,” he added. “Although a number of countries have laws against hate speech, their definitions of it vary significantly.”
In the post, which was published Tuesday, the California-based company announced it will be hiring 3,000 people to work on the community operations team. Currently, there are 4,500 working in the same department.
Allan tried to quell any concerns that Facebook would be censoring what users post, but noted that not removing content that others believe is “offensive” would not be “living up to the values in our community standards.”
“When we remove something you posted and believe is a reasonable political view, it can feel like censorship,” Allan wrote. “We know how strongly people feel when we make such mistakes, and we’re constantly working to improve our processes and explain things more fully.”
Facebook also announced that, over the last two months, it has been deleting about 66,000 posts a week because they were deemed “hate speech.”
The social media mammoth has faced quite a bit of scrutiny lately for content it has allowed to be shared online. Earlier this year, Facebook was criticized for allowing one user, Steve Stephens, to broadcast the murder of Robert Godwin Sr. online.
Several users have attempted to broadcast their suicides on Facebook, too. In April, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted his company has “a lot of work” to do.
Zuckerberg wrote last month that the new employees “will also help us get better at removing things we don't allow on Facebook like hate speech and child exploitation.
“And we’ll keep working with local community groups and law enforcement who are in the best position to help someone if they need it — either because they’re about to harm themselves, or because they're in danger from someone else,” he said.
The announcement about the new hires came as Facebook reached the milestone of 2 billion users.