On Tuesday Facebook announced that the company has removed 10,000 “bad actors” from the company’s social media platform in order to ensure that Facebook is a “safe place for everyone.” In a post at the Facebook Newsroom entitled “Removing Bad Actors from Facebook,” Nathaniel Gleicher, head of cybersecurity policy, announced the changes. “As part of our broader efforts to prevent abuse and ensure Facebook is a safe place for everyone, we recently took down more than 10,000 fake Pages, Groups, and accounts in Mexico and across Latin America because they violated our Community Standards,” he said. “The content we’ve found broke our policies on coordinated harm and inauthentic behavior, as well as attacks based on race, gender or sexual orientation.” [Emphasis added]”There is no place on Facebook for this kind of behavior — and we’re investing heavily in both people and technology to keep bad content off our services,” he added. “For example, we took down 837 million pieces of spam and 2.5 million pieces of hate speech and disabled 583 million fake accounts globally in the first quarter of 2018 — much of it before anyone reported the issue to Facebook.” Gleicher said that Facebook is using machine learning, artificial intelligence, and computer vision to detect bad actors more quickly.He said the action was necessary for the run-up to elections, most likely referring to the Mexican election on July 1. “It’s why we’ve been working so hard to prevent election interference by doubling down on fake accounts that spread misinformation; working with third-party fact-checkers to stop the spread of false news; and making advertising much more transparent,” said Gleicher.
He noted that Facebook has “given millions of people a voice all around the world — and it is important the conversations taking place on our service every day are authentic.”
The purge is troubling, however, for those of us with unpopular views like the belief in the sanctity of marriage. I asked Zuckerberg in a recent article to explain exactly what he means by “hate speech” and whether traditional Christian views will be censored by Facebook, but I’m still waiting for his response. The phrase “attacks based on race, gender or sexual orientation” leaves a lot of room for interpretation and Facebook has not been forthcoming about exactly what speech is not permitted. Can we discuss race at all on Facebook anymore or are all such conversations considered an “attack”? Are discussions and comments about sexual ethics off the table? Is every guy who complains about women going to be dumped by Facebook?
As I’ve said repeatedly, Facebook is a private company and as such, they’re free to ban anyone they want for any or no reason. And we’re all free to walk away if we’re not comfortable with the way Zuckerberg is running his company. I only wish that Facebook would be very clear about what’s acceptable speech and what is verboten so that we can decide whether we want to stick with the platform or walk away.