Civil rights groups have some strong advice for the technology industry when it comes to combating online hate speech. Activists offered recommendations to Silicon Valley in a new report released Thursday (Oct. 25) as investigations over mail bombs sent to high-profile Democrats continue.
The groups — Center for American Progress, Color of Change, Free Press, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the National Hispanic Media Coalition and the Southern Poverty Law Center — recognize that new guidelines are needed to crack down on hate groups. The coalition, under the name Change The Terms, has created recommended corporate policies and terms of service to “ensure that social media platforms, payment service providers, and other internet-based services are not places where hateful activities and extremism can grow.”
“Most tech companies are committed to providing a safe and welcoming space for all users. But when tech companies try to regulate content arbitrarily, without civil rights expertise, or without sufficient resources, they can exacerbate the problem,” a statement from the coalition’s website said.
The report puts the spotlight on hate speech — a problem that has also been highlighted in conversations about this week’s news of mail bombs targeting top Democrats such as Barack Obama, Kamala Harris and Maxine Waters. Several users have talked about Trump’s divisive rhetoric and hate speech as playing a role in spurring the alarming incidents.
It’s clear that hate groups have made use of social platforms, online forums and other websites to orchestrate violent events. Organizers for the deadly neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville, Virginia last August used Facebook, PayPal, and Discord. Additionally, the violent Proud Boys group vetted new applicants through Facebook, according to the coalition’s report.
Technology companies have made stronger efforts to curb some online hate speech, however, more work must be done. The coalition, which has met with experts on terrorism, human rights, and technology around the world, will continue their work to crack down on hate speech.