Press Release

ADL Statement on Facebook Reportedly "Overhauling" Hate Speech Algorithms

New York, NY, December 3, 2020 ... ADL (the Anti-Defamation League) CEO and National Director Jonathan A. Greenblatt issued the following statement regarding reports that Facebook is "overhauling" its algorithms that detect hate speech:

For years, ADL has advocated that Facebook pay specific attention to rampant hate and extremism on its platform, including antisemitism, racism, xenophobia and all forms of extremism. For too long, the persistent presence of bigotry and conspiracy theories has impacted vulnerable and marginalized communities including people of color, religious minorities, the LGBTQ community and others. 

For these reasons, we're glad to see that Facebook appears to have responded to the common sense demands made by ADL as well as other civil rights organizations. It also seems to have acknowledged the demands laid out by multi-stakeholder coalitions like Stop Hate for Profit. Indeed, this news appears to confirm that, despite their initial public statements, Facebook internally acknowledged its responsibility to stop the spread of hate and harassment on its service and implemented concrete changes to their algorithm. This is an important and long overdue step forward.

To be clear, Facebook always had the ability to address these problems. Only now it seems that are starting to apply their vast resources to make real changes and adjusting their algorithms to enforce their policies. Again, we are proud of the work of Stop Hate for Profit and other campaigns to drive this change.

And yet simply issuing statements won’t solve the problem. So while we are encouraged that Facebook is attacking the most serious symptoms of the disease that it permitted to spread for so many years, we need to see additional steps to cure the sickness of hate on social media. We want to see Facebook make a long-term commitment to change with clear public commitment to milestones and timing. At the same time, the company needs to do more to follow-up effectively on previous announcements such as clamping down on Holocaust denial and other forms of antisemitism before the platform can be considered a truly safe space for Jews and other marginalized groups.

ADL and our partners in the civil rights community stand ready to work with Facebook as it seeks to make these changes. We're willing to collaborate and share our expertise to help the company improve its performance. But we also are prepared to hold Facebook accountable and ensure promises are kept. The health of our society depends on it.