Facebook launches initiative to fight online hate speech in UK

London Attacks

Facebook initiates to fight extremist material online by educating charitable and other non-government organizations on how to counter to hate speech. Facebook has launched an ‘Online Civil Courage Initiative’ in UK today. It includes training organizations on how to reduce and respond to extremist content. The dedicated support desk from the company will meet their concerns and raise the issues.

The launch has been initiated after growing online criticism on Facebook, Twitter, Google, and other social media platform. There has been a rise of proliferation of such extremist material and that must be addressed to.

Earlier in June, Theresa May called technology companies to reduce the ‘poisonous propaganda’ that ignites terrorist outrage. Manchester and London attacks were examples of such unrest. After a discussion with French president, Emmanuel Macron, there was an agreement to create new liability for tech companies if they fail to remove extremist content.

Facebook is working on their initiative along with the Institute for Strategic Dialogue. This is a counter-extremism campaign group that helps promote the initiative. The COO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, is to reveal the plan in London with Brendan Cox, the husband of murdered MP Jo Cox.

London Attacks
Spreading hate outside a Mosque

Sandberg said that Manchester and London attacks were ‘absolutely heartbreaking’. She also added that ‘we all have a part to play in stopping violent extremism from spreading’. Sheryl reassured that there is no place for hatred or violence on Facebook. They are now having technology and teams to fight terrorist-related content and reviewers all around the world will work to keep the extremist content out off their platform. They are partnering with other tech companies, researches, civil society and government to stay more alert.

One of their most important focuses is on ‘counter speed’. This means that people are being encouraged to speak against extremism. The Online Civil Courage Initiative will support NGOs and other community groups that work across the country to challenge extremist narratives that lead to harm.

The social media platforms admitted that they have a lot to do to keep violence off from Facebook, but they are trying their best to do so. They are training their support desk and also making the organizations promote their anti-extremism campaign. This will help different platforms reach out to the public and see how they respond to it. They also need financial support for academic research for both online and offline patterns to curb extremism and to see how people react to it.

Facebook has launched this initiative in France and Germany already. However, the company has not disclosed how much funding they used for working on these initiatives. The Jo Cox Foundation is one of the founding members for the UK initiative, along with other anti-hate groups from Muslim and Jewish communities.

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Illegally entering a place of worship for Muslims and posting video on Facebook

Brendan Cox said that it is a valuable and required initiative taken by Facebook to tackle violence.  Anything that can help push extremists off the margin is appreciated. There is much responsibility to take from all social media platforms to address to this hate speech. Too often these contents have been given a way to reach the online platform, and no actions have been taken against. It is crucial to take efforts by all online service providers and social media sites so that the communities can come closer. They can further crack down on people who spread hatred and extremism.

In May, the Guardian reported that Facebook moderators had identified over 1,300 posts that are credible to terrorist threats. One source similar to counter-terrorism policies by Facebook had warned to face a ‘mission impossible’ to control extremists content online.

A Home Office spokesman reported that the terrorist threats faced by the country are going on increasing. He appreciates Facebook’s initiative to curb extremist material and to also get a hold of people who post such content. There is a lot more to do for all technology companies and they must move fast towards preventing such toxicity online. He also added that we all look forward to see how such industry-led forums can fight terrorist use on the internet.