Facebook’s Community Standards Update a “Significant Step in the Battle to Confront Online Hate,” ADL Says

New York, NY, March 16, 2015 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today welcomed Facebook’s new statement providing more clarity about its Community Standards, saying the social media platform’s update is a “significant step in the battle to confront online hate” that places more emphasis on transparency.

Christopher Wolf, ADL Civil Rights Chair, and Deborah M. Lauter, ADL Civil Rights Director, issued the following statement:

Facebook’s amplification of its Community Standards is a significant step in the battle to confront online hate, and clearly consistent with the letter and spirit of our Best Practices for Countering Cyberhate. The language added furthers our call for transparency, speaks directly to key issues, and includes links to relevant support material for users seeking more details. We welcome this approach, which we believe empowers Facebook users to utilize the tools the company provides more intelligently and effectively when confronting offensive content.

We are pleased that Facebook continues to exhibit corporate responsibility by directly prohibiting harmful content, including hate speech.  However, certain offensive content that does not meet Facebook’s standards for hate speech is allowed to remain even if it is false and profoundly offensive. We recommend that Facebook add a clear statement encouraging users who encounter ignorant and false material to use their own voices to educate the social media platform’s broader community about why such material does little or nothing to advance the marketplace of ideas. Such an effort to engage their community of users would further Facebook’s expressed desire to create a safe and respectful platform.

We call on other industry leaders to follow Facebook’s lead, and help users understand more clearly how they can respond when they encounter offensive content on whatever platform they are using.

In September 2014, the League released its “Best Practices for Responding to Cyberhate,” initiative that establishes guideposts for the industry and the Internet community to help prevent the spread of online hate speech. The initiative is a result of discussions and deliberations by an industry working group convened by ADL.

In an attempt to help Internet uses better navigate the various mechanisms available for reporting online hate speech, the League in June 2013 launched The ADL Cyber-Safety Action Guide, a platform where consumers can learn how and where to report bigoted, bullying or hateful speech to the major social media platforms and other Internet providers. ADL also offers a variety of other resources on cyberhate, including a special curriculum, Addressing Hate Online, designed specifically for high school students.