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Facebook's updated hate speech policy will hold users accountable for posting domestic violence content


Facebook has helped the FBI to bust an international hacking ring, which allegedly stole the credit card details of 11 million computer users.


Justin Sullivan

Facebook admitted it held greater responsibility to reduce hateful content aimed at women, and announced a change in its policies to designate domestic violence as hate speech.

In a blog post Tuesday, Facebook’s vice-president of public policy Marne Levine said “we need to do better – and we will.”

Facebook has added five steps it promises to "roll out immediately" in order to improve its reaction to misogynistic content.

First, Facebook will review and update guidelines used to evaluate how it responds to reports of hate speech. It will also add training for staff who must evaluate those reports.

Facebook also promises to continue speaking with women’s groups, and will petition to have those groups included in Anti-Defamation League’s Anti-Cyberhate working group.

Most dramatic, however, might be Facebook’s pledge to “out” anyone who posts hateful content; it wants users to stand behind anything they post with their actual identities.

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“If an individual decides to publicly share cruel and insensitive content, users can hold the author accountable and directly object to the content,” Levine said.

Facebook’s announcement came a week after Women, Action and the Media urged the social media giant to take greater action against content that “trivializes or glorifies violence against girls or women,” Reuters said.

The group also said Facebook users should alert advertisers when their products appear next to offensive content.

According to MediaWeek in the UK, roughly 13 advertisers have pulled their Facebook ads in response, including carmaker Nissan.

Laura Bates of the Everyday Sexism Project and writer Soraya Chemaly signed the letter alongside Women, Action and the Media.

To reinforce their efforts with Facebook, the trio sent 5,000 emails, The New York Times said.

Their Twitter hashtag, #FBrape, generated 60,000 tweets, The Times said.

“Your refusal to similarly address gender-based hate speech marginalizes girls and women, sidelines our experiences and concerns, and contributes to violence against them,” the letter said.

“Facebook is an enormous social network with more than a billion users around the world, making your site extremely influential in shaping social and cultural norms and behaviors.”

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