Facebook cracking down on ‘implicit hate speech’ in the wake of ad boycott

Facebook has published the sixth edition of its “community standards enforcement report,” and with it some new no-nos as regards content posted by users. Going forward it will be against the rules to post “content depicting blackface, or stereotypes about Jewish people controlling the world.” These, Facebook states, are forms of “implicit hate speech.”

The policy update comes just after a boycott led by major advertisers like Walmart, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and the insufferable Geico cost Facebook millions in ad revenue. The boycott was organised in part by Stop Hate for Profit, which had this to say last month:

“This movement will not go away until Facebook makes the reasonable changes that society wants. The ad pause in July was not a full campaign – it was a warning shot across Facebook’s bow. This movement only will get bigger and broader until Facebook takes the common-sense steps necessary to mitigate the damage it causes.”

It picked up enough steam that Facebook execs met with some of the boycott leaders. When asked during his recent testimony before the US legislature whether he cares about the ad boycott, CEO Zuckerberg said:

“Of course we care, but we’re also not going to set our content policies because of advertisers.”

As if Facebook would ever think to set its policies because of anything else. Ads account for virtually 100 percent of the company’s revenue, which was $70 billion last year. For Zuck to claim that advertisers have no influence over the company’s content policies is preposterous. Lies of that magnitude ought to show up on national crime checks in Australia.

In its enforcement report Facebook also detailed some of the effects the COVID pandemic has had on its ability to police content. For example, they “sent home” their content reviewers and have been relying more on automation to do the job. The result was a greater amount of suicide videos and child porn: “With fewer content reviewers, we took action on fewer pieces of content on both Facebook and Instagram for suicide and self-injury, and child nudity and sexual exploitation on Instagram.”