Facebook Outlines Evolving Efforts to Combat Hate Speech in New Report

Facebook's facilitation and amplification of both hate speech and misinformation has been a key topic of focus over the past four years, but even more so within the chaos of 2020. COVID-19, the #BlackLivesMatter movement and the US Presidential election have all, in their own ways, underlined the role that Facebook can play in amplifying dangerous narratives, and sowing division as a result.

Facebook is currently facing tough questions once again over the role it's playing in spreading false claims made about the election results, while in other regions, misinformation campaigns on the platform have lead to violent conflicts, and threatened democratic process. Facebook is keen to point out that it is working to address such claims, and that it is evolving its processes to tackle these concerns.

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As explained by Facebook:

"Prevalence estimates the percentage of times people see violating content on our platform. We calculate hate speech prevalence by selecting a sample of content seen on Facebook and then labeling how much of it violates our hate speech policies. Based on this methodology, we estimated the prevalence of hate speech from July 2020 to September 2020 was 0.10% to 0.11%. In other words, out of every 10,000 views of content on Facebook, 10 to 11 of them included hate speech."

The important consideration here is scale - as Facebook notes, 10 out of 10,000 isn't much. But Facebook has more than 2.7 billion active users, and as an example, if every single Facebook user only saw one post per month, would still mean that 2.7 million people would still be seeing some hate speech content. And that's no where near indicative of total views on Facebook - so while the prevalence data here is positive, at Facebook's scale, that still means a lot of people are being exposed to hate speech on the platform.


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