One of the many damning revelations from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen during her Congressional testimony on October 5 was that the platform devotes 87% of its research and resources on fighting misinformation to English-language content when only 9% of its users are English speakers. The lack of content moderation over hateful content in languages other than English has helped fuel global conflicts such as the civil war in Ethiopia.
And it appears Facebook’s efforts in Spanish are also problematic. ADL found antisemitic content that clearly violates the platform’s hate speech policy—in one example, an animated video about Holocaust denial that has been up for five years. In just a cursory review of Spanish language posts on the platform, we collected 25 Spanish-language antisemitic posts that were posted by groups with a total of 666,728 followers and viewed 55,911 times. These startling numbers indicate the damaging reach of even a modest number of posts.
Although there are nearly 500 million Spanish speakers all over the world, serious questions must be asked about whether Facebook and its parent company, Meta, devotes enough resources to content moderation in the language.
Research shows Spanish-language content moderation on Facebook is lagging. The human rights nonprofit Avaaz found that Facebook applied warning labels to 70% of misinformation about Covid-19 in English compared to only 30% in Spanish. Advocates have been pushing Facebook to provide transparency on the size and scope of its Spanish-language moderation teams to no avail.
Facebook, like most major social media platforms, prohibits harassing people based on identity characteristics including race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc. The company's hate speech policy also forbids “designated dehumanizing comparisons, generalizations, or behavioral statements (in written or visual form) that include...Jewish people running the world or controlling major institutions such as media networks, the economy, or the government.” Facebook also explicitly prohibits Holocaust denial. The content collected here includes blatant examples of conspiracy theories about Jewish people operating global cabals, stealing land, and extracting reparations from countries to accumulate money and power.
ADL has been documenting Facebook’s inaction against antisemitic content through our Online Holocaust Denial Report Card and Online Antisemitism Report Card. In the former, Facebook earned a D despite its explicit ban on Holocaust denial content and it received a C- on the latter. The full extent of antisemitic Spanish-language content on the platform is unknown, but judging by the posts ADL easily found, it is yet another instance of the world’s largest communication platform failing to perform its due diligence in removing hate speech.