Archive for March, 2013

Facebook: Hate Speech Not Allowed…Oh Wait That Depends Who Is Talking.

Posted in Uncategorized on March 5, 2013 by scottsteaux63

I have been on Facebook for close to five years now.  Prior to that I was a chat room host on AOL in the GLBT area.  My Host name Was HOST GLBT Keys and I hosted several chats in the Pozitive Living Room, a safe space for people with HIV to come and talk about the effect the virus has had on our lives (I have been poz since 1989), and one whose safety was carefully guarded not just by us hosts but by the Community Leaders we reported to.  We  did not tolerate hate speech and AOL even provided us with tools to silence and even eject from a chat room anyone who came in to harass, belittle, or otherwise troll the rooms looking for trouble. 

In order to become a host at AOL, a member had to be six months free of Terms of Service (TOS) violations.  To give you an idea of just how important TOS was back then, printed out it came to something like thirty eight and a half by eleven pages and in order to qualify as hosts we had to know that stuff backwards, forwards, and in our sleep.

Sadly, AOL eventually did away with hosted chats when they went from charging members a monthly subscription fee to being an advertiser-supported free service.  With the chat hosts gone, the regulars in the GLBT area, most particularly those who came to our chats in the PLR, dwindled down to nothing.

It broke my heart to see the demise of AOL as a community, but as it happened, Facebook, which started out rather quietly as an alternative to the more flashy MySpace, filled the space left by AOL; over the years I have reconnected with many people I was friends with on AOL.

Which brings me to the point of this post.  Facebook, in both its Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and its Community Standards, states unequivocally that hate speech is not allowed.  And there was a time when they actually backed that up; I am a member of a Facebook page called Wipe Out Homophobia and over the course of four years or so we have managed to get something like two hundred racist and/or anti-gay pages or groups removed from Facebook.

Then one day there came this page:

This page showed up some three months or so ago and despite a bombardment of reports, Facebook flatly refuses to remove this monument to anti-Gay hate speech, even though their Terms and Community Standards still claim that hate speech is unacceptable and not permitted!

When a report is filed, Facebook offers the reporter the option of receiving a response from Facebook.  In the case of the above page, I have so far counted at least fifty members who have submitted reports and have received a lame, unacceptable email that says in so many words that the page “does not violate Facebook’s Community Standards.”

Interestingly enough, all these replies are signed “Viki.”  Now it does not take a math whiz to grasp the concept that a company with a billion subscribers is hardly likely to have one little employee sitting in a cubicle somewhere dealing with all the millions of reports of Terms violations.  I can’t prove this, but to me what it smells like is that reports are dealt with by a computer which generates the aforementioned email. 

There is one bright spot though:  along with the email saying the page is not in violation of their Standards, they also ask for Feedback.  And I have been giving them the rough edge of my tongue (fingers??) for a couple weeks.  So far nothing has changed, and frankly, I cannot say I am surprised; I suspect that the “feedback” goes directly into the Recycle Bin.

I am far from finished with this issue.  Mark Zuckerberg became a billionaire ten times over on the backs of the people who keep his website going; for a man as young as he is, the sheer ingratitude and arrogance of his failure to maintain the standards that one presumes he had something to do with creating in the first place is unconscionable.  I only have one warning for him:  you might think you and your brainchild are the king of the world right now, but there was a time when AOL thought the same thing and if they had not branched out into cable television and Internet service they would have died an agonizing death a long time ago.  In fact the AOL brand is all but dead; the merger with Time Warner finished the death knell that had already begun to sound when AOL as a community dissolved.

Mr Zuckerberg:  No one is invulnerable.  Everyone can get got.  In all probability you can’t be ruined financially as you have more money than a small city could spend in a century, but you and your brainchild can easily be dragged through the mud unless you quit wallowing in it and start upholding the standards your company claims to uphold.