More incidents of online hate speech are popping up, increasing the need for more measures to combat it.
Recently, a Bayonne, New Jersey firefighter was placed on leave after the discovery of racist posts about Barack and Michelle Obama on his personal Facebook page. Keith J. Castaldo‘s profile featured several disparaging and offensive messages about other African Americans, Muslims and other groups that were published over several months last year, the Jersey Journal reported over the weekend. Castaldo, who said his account had been hacked, has had his Facebook page deleted.
But the hateful message on the firefighter’s account shares similarities with other horribly derogatory and offensive posts on Facebook.
Folks can report such disgusting speech on the social media platform, but that action has not been much effective in cracking down on the speech. Facebook announced the launch of an initiative to train and fund local organizations to combat extremism messages last June—however, officials have been called on to do more. The company is planning to make technical changes and adding more human content moderators to stop hate speech.
It’s important to note that activists have said that censorship standards on Facebook are “unclear and biased,” urging the platform to adopt reforms to curb abusive content. An investigation by ProPublica also found that community standards on Facebook are not “evenly enforced.”
It’s clear that more must be done to win the war against offensive messages, activists have said.
Facebook will undoubtedly have to repair the damage done by the recent Cambridge Analytica data leak scandal. But officials will have to make stronger efforts to crack down on speech, taking cues from civil rights leaders.
Activists have called out online hate speech, reported examples and spread the word about their fight against it. They have started petitions and joined forces to combat extremism messages. Measures to stop hate online will likely involve platforms such as Facebook working more closely with activists.