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Open Letter to Mark Zuckerberg: Tell Us What You Mean by 'Hate Speech'

Dear Mark:

During your recent campaign to reassure users that you're taking concerns about privacy and fake news seriously, you've stated repeatedly that you want Facebook to be a diverse forum. You told the European Parliament last month, "We are committed to being a platform for all ideas" and "It's very important to me that we're a service that allows a wide variety of political discourse." You added, "We have never and will not make decisions about what content is allowed or how we do ranking on the basis of a political orientation."

The problem is that you've said other things that seem to contradict those statements, specifically your comments on "hate speech." At the Viva Technology conference in Paris last month you said, "Right now we build the rules for what content should be allowed in the service. And if we decide that your post is hate speech, then we take it down." You went on to explain how you envisioned a sort of Facebook Supreme Court to manage appeals for users who have had their content removed.

According to Facebook's Community Standards, the company's organizational 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."

Which leaves us wondering if you're using that definition to condemn and ban conservative speech. Conservatives have been complaining for years about being unfairly booted from your platform and having their content removed. And as you've added new tools to monitor fake news, the complaints have only escalated.

A wide variety of conservative content has been censored by Facebook, but I'm specifically asking you about Christian speech. Among other things, biblical Christianity teaches the following things that many people find offensive—beliefs that all at one time or another have been called "hate speech" by various grievance groups.

  • Evil exists
  • Truth is not subjective
  • Right and wrong are legitimate categories
  • Non-Christians will go to hell
  • Marriage is between one man and one woman
  • Homosexuality is a sin
  • Gender is defined by God
  • All other religions are false -- and wrong
  • The Bible is God's inspired word and all other books are inferior

The list is not exhaustive, nor does it include non-controversial Christian beliefs such as "love your neighbor as yourself" because those are not at issue here. It's the controversial parts as they relate to your platform that Christians are concerned about. Are our sincerely held religious beliefs about biblical truths— beliefs that have been essentially non-controversial for millennia—so offensive to you and the so-called Facebook "community" that you think they should be banned outright or deprioritized?