Facebook announced Tuesday it was updating its hate speech policies to include “stereotypes about Jewish people controlling the world.”
The statement, which appeared in Facebook’s latest Community Enforcement Standards report, said the social media giant had established new teams and task forces to combat hate.
“We’re also updating our policies to more specifically account for certain kinds of implicit hate speech, such as content depicting blackface, or stereotypes about Jewish people controlling the world,” the statement read.
Since October 2019, Facebook has removed 23 organizations from its platform, over half of which supported white supremacy, the statement said.
It added it has improved its detection rate for hate speech in the second quarter of 2020, taking action to remove vitriol.
“This is because we expanded some of our automation technology in Spanish, Arabic and Indonesian and made improvements to our English detection technology,” the statement said.
Facebook’s reports will also be audited by independent, third parties in order to validate the accuracy of their statistics, the statement said.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, we’ll continue adapting our content review process and working to improve our technology and bring more reviewers back online,” the statement concluded.
Arsen Ostrovsky, an international human rights lawyer and head of the Israel-Jewish Congress, said the update was a step in the right direction but not enough.
“Facebook needs to be commended for engaging with the Jewish community, to listening to our concerns and taking meaningful and pro-active steps to tackle the antisemitism permeating through their platform,” Ostrovsky told Press News.
He added, however, that much more needed to be done in order “to draw the right balance between a vibrant expression of speech and rooting out hatred & incitement against the Jewish community” which, he said, constituted a violation of Facebook’s own rules.
He called on Facebook to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, which “is the most exhaustive and widely accepted definition in the world, that includes not only attacks against Jewish people, but Antisemitism manifesting in attacks against the State of Israel.”
Bravo @Facebook for announcing this new policy to tackle hate speech on your platform. It is certainly a step in right direction. But insofar as #Antisemitism is concerned, it is imperative that next, Facebook #AdoptIHRA definition as a base standard. https://t.co/BiqM9BGBF0
— Arsen Ostrovsky (@Ostrov_A) August 11, 2020
Last week, 128 Jewish and pro-Israel organizations signed an open letter calling on Facebook to adopt the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism. The letter, posted to the Stop Anti-Semitism.org website, stated:
The full IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism provides Facebook an effective, neutral, and nuanced tool to protect Jewish users from hate speech and imagery that incites hate and oftentimes leads to violence. While the impact of online hate speech, misinformation, and disinformation on our society continues to be researched and explored, we cannot afford to lose any more time in fighting this bigotry and preventing violence.
In a response to the letter, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg wrote that the IHRA definition of antisemitism has been “valuable” in crafting the social media company’s hate speech policies.
“In some respects, our Community Standards go further than the IHRA definition — for example, expressions of dismissal e.g. ‘I don’t like Jews’,” Sandberg wrote.
Thank you @sherylsandberg for your immediate response!
— StopAntisemitism.org (@StopAntisemites) August 11, 2020
Ostrovsky, whose organization was one of the letter’s signatories, critiqued Facebook’s reticence in adopting the IHRA’s definition fully.
“Simply put, unless you can first define what it is you are trying to defeat, it is not a battle you can win,” he told Press News.
“Adopting and implementing the IHRA definition as the cornerstone of Facebook’s hate speech policy on anti-Semitism provides a base standard from which to identify relevant offending material and take appropriate action, while maintaining Facebook as a safe, open and vibrant community.”