Facebook Begins to Crack Down on Hate Pages
The past year has been tumultuous for Facebook, as it has been criticized far and wide for not controlling the spreading of fake news sites. As if that was not enough, the network was further criticized for letting hate pages grow out of control. Following the Charlottesville incident, it was quite clear that the pages on the platform played quite a pivotal role in the rapid spread of racism and hatred.
Over the past year, Facebook has been trying its best to reduce false news and hoaxes, by preventing advertisers from linking to stories that have been marked as false or misleading. That hardly seems to be an effective method especially since hate pages plenty abound. In fact, a number of people reported that Facebook does not actually remove hate pages and may only remove offensive posts. The reason? Freedom of speech and expression is a tough nut to crack. What constitutes freedom of speech and what would constitute as hate speech? What would be freedom of expression and what would be fake news? The lines are blurry and difficult to draw, which explains Facebook’s tough time in removing the pages.
The good news, however, is the fact that Facebook is doubling on its efforts to remove hate pages. In a recent blog post, the company’s product manager Satwik Shukla wrote about the crucial steps Facebook is taking to curtail fake news, hate pages, and hoaxes. They are now taking an additional step by preventing pages that are repeatedly marked or reported from being able to advertise. By curtailing advertisements, Facebook is hoping to reduce the distribution of false news and thereafter preventing the pages from making money. Under the very same token, if the pages stop sharing or spreading false news, it may be able to run ads again.
The problem with this approach is that it is time-consuming and in the long run ineffective in controlling the widespread of false news. Who are third-party fact checkers? Is it the general public or is it some party hired by Facebook? Secondly, how will they determine what are facts and what are fake news? Thirdly, pages don’t need advertisements to grow if they already have a large subscriber base. It is only in the long-run that we will be able to see if these preventive measures actually work to control the spread of fake news.
Criticisms aside, Facebook’s measures can be seen as an effort to give everyone a chance to use the platform fairly and positively. It is also good to see that the platform doesn’t lean on to a certain side, but tries to be objective, fair and hold on to values of freedom of speech. As users of the platform, we should be inspired by the platform’s efforts and ensure that we take our preventive measures in sharing and liking posts that are factual and rational. The responsibility at the end of the day lies upon the user. If we are responsible with our information, the world may be a better place for all!