Facebook is clearly feeling the pressure from conservatives concerned about the censoring of content, following Sen. Ted Cruz grilling Mark Zuckerberg before the Senate about right-leaning commentators including Diamond and Silk who have been banned.
Regardless of whether or not that censorship will continue (and we will continue to vigilantly report on cases and signs of it), Facebook Leadership is making public overtures to conservatives to try to win favor.
Facebook head of global policy management Monika Bickert appeared on conservative writer Ben Domenech’s show on The Federalist Radio Hour to talk about how Facebook decides what to censor.
“You have all these different factions of those places as well. I will tell you that on my team we have a broad variety of views and experience but we also maintain relationships with groups outside the company that have very frequent input into our policy,” Bickert said.
“So, a few weeks ago we were deciding should we redefine our policy about photos of fetuses. It sounds like a horrible area, but frankly this is something that is political speech to many people and it’s something that we do see on our service so we do reach out to pro-life groups, to pro-choice groups, we understood how this speech was important to them or upsetting to them, and then we reached a policy consensus and that consensus was that speech was going to be allowed on Facebook unless somebody is sharing it to…with sadistic commentary or celebrating violence, but we really do try hard to get views from broad perspectives,” Bickert said.
Domenech asked Bickert what defines hate speech.
“That’s right, and it’s not perfect, we know that, and hate speech is probably our most difficult policy in terms of drawing a line that will make sense to everybody globally. We’ve got all these different people in different parts of the world who see these issues very differently know that where we draw the line won’t please everybody. But what we try to focus on is where speech is explicitly attacking people. That starts to feel different that people criticizing their religion or homosexuality. You’re right, we do hear very frequently, in fact there was a news story that we say maybe a week ago that was about criticizing islams. we were asked why we weren’t removing this as many people were viewing it has offensive hate speech. That speech is okay on facebook. It might make people uncomfortable they don’t have to look at it. They can also engage in counter speech. They can saw “You don’t understand Islam? You’re getting it wrong and that’s fine. Just draw the line where it is attacks on people,” Bickert said.
“People are going to come from different backgrounds and whether its political bias their views on what kind of nudity should be shared on Facebook, they are going to have very different perspectives. My team’s job is to take that out of the process and we do that by having very granular standard. These standard are so granular it means that we aren’t always going to get it right,” Bickert added.
Big League Politics led the way on reporting on Facebook’s shuttering and bias against pro-Trump groups, and Facebook Leadership appeared willing to address our concerns, agreeing to discuss the matter with me before a Buzzfeed reporter contacted them about it and they backed out of our conversation.
We will continue to monitor this situation.
Here is Cruz’s interrogation of Zuckerberg. Enjoy.