Over the past few days, many companies have taken part in a campaign called Stop Hate for Profit, which called for advertisers to pull their ads from Facebook. This comes from what is believed to be an insufficient effort from the social network to address racism and hateful content on the platform, with a report in late May even suggesting that the company's algorithms encouraged divisiveness.
Today, Nick Clegg, Vice President of Global Affairs and Communications at Facebook, wrote a blog post defending the social network from the accusations it has been the target of. The post, aptly titled "Facebook does not benefit from hate", makes that exact point, stating that neither users, advertisers, nor Facebook itself want to see hateful content on the platform and that there's no incentive for the company to keep it there.
The post claims that Facebook takes a zero tolerance approach to hateful content, and when it's spotted, it's deleted. However, if the content can't exactly be considered hate speech, the company favors free expression. With that being said, a lot of content is posted on Facebook every day, and the social network says that finding hateful content "is like looking for a needle in a haystack".
The company has tripled the number of people working on safety and security on its platform, with more than 35,000 workers doing that job, in addition to automated systems that attempt to filter out this content before it's reported by users. Referencing a report from the European Commission, Facebook says it assesses 95.7% of hate speech reports within 24 hours, and by its own reports, almost 90% of hate speech is removed before anyone reports it, a number that sat at just 24% two years ago.
The post specifically mentions the President of the United States, Donald Trump, whom many users have asked Facebook to ban altogether. Clegg acknowledges that some of the content posted by Trump is "inflammatory" but that the social network believes the right way to hold politicians accountable is by voting. Thus, starting this Friday, it will begin showing a message to all users of voting age in the U.S., which will help them register to vote in the upcoming presidential elections. Facebook's goal is to help registering four million voters.
Facebook promises to keep getting better at stopping hateful content on the platform, but it remains to be seen if that's enough to alleviate the criticism surrounding the social network.