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Over the past decade, the company has developed hundreds of rules, drawing elaborate distinctions between what should and shouldn’t be allowed, in an effort to make the site a safe place for its nearly 2 billion users.The issue of how Facebook monitors this content has become increasingly prominent in recent months, with the rise of “fake news” — fabricated stories that circulated on Facebook like “Pope Francis Shocks the World, Endorses Donald Trump For President, Releases Statement” — and growing concern that terrorists are using social media for recruitment.Unlike American law, which permits preferences such as affirmative action for racial minorities and women for the sake of diversity or redressing discrimination, Facebook’s algorithm is designed to defend all races and genders equally.
The company has begun exploring adding an appeals process for people who have individual pieces of content deleted, according to Bickert. The law, section 230 of the Telecommunications Act, was passed after Prodigy was sued and held liable for defamation for a post written by a user on a computer message board.“I’ll be the first to say that we’re not perfect every time,” she said. The law freed up online publishers to host online forums without having to legally vet each piece of content before posting it, the way that a news outlet would evaluate an article before publishing it.But early tech companies soon realized that they still needed to supervise their chat rooms to prevent bullying and abuse that could drive away users.This approach, she added, will “protect the people who least need it and take it away from those who really need it.” But Facebook says its goal is different — to apply consistent standards worldwide.“The policies do not always lead to perfect outcomes,” said Monika Bickert, head of global policy management at Facebook.
While Facebook was credited during the 2010-2011 “Arab Spring” with facilitating uprisings against authoritarian regimes, the documents suggest that, at least in some instances, the company’s hate-speech rules tend to favor elites and governments over grassroots activists and racial minorities.