A Question of Speech

Does this post contain hate speech?

Facebook is at it again. Subtle to the eye, but they apparently have implemented another new policy. Have you noticed the question tucked underneath posts in your News Feed today?

Does this post contain hate speech?

Under every single post.

Policing Language

I get that Facebook has been under fire this year and are looking for ways to fix things, but I’m not sure if this is the way to go about it. Are these yes or no questions permanent? If you click yes, what will happen? Will the poster be sent to FB prison and prevented from posting for a period of time? What happens if you click yes by accident? Is there a way to alter your decision? And if you just ignore Facebook’s attempts to eradicate the haters from their happy party, what happens then? Nothing, or are you added to a watch list for dissenters?

And what exactly construes hate speech anyway? Well, there is an answer to that on FB’s help page.

Content that attacks people based on their actual or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, disability or disease is not allowed. We do, however, allow clear attempts at humor or satire that might otherwise be considered a possible threat or attack. This includes content that many people may find to be in bad taste (example: jokes, stand-up comedy, popular song lyrics, etc.).

In my mind that is a good thing, but could anyone cry foul and scream about freedom of speech? Invariably, but do we really need to laugh at, criticize, or single out people for their race, gender, sexual identity, and more? I would like to think not, but sadly it still happens. Incidents like last week’s van attack in Toronto, that have been likened to an incel attack, prove we have a way to go. Not to mention the Cambridge Analytica scandal that saw Mark Zuckerberg answering to the US Senate over Facebook’s roll in a data sharing breach, the spread of fake news, and Russian collusion during the last US election. People will always look for ways to exploit their own best interests, it would seem.

Can’t we all just get along? I saw a post this morning highlighting the fact that at the heart of most world religions, the tenet is to treat others as you would like to be treated yourself. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all people! Throwing rocks at others doesn’t raise you up or make you a better person. Why do people feel the need to be hateful to those around them? And why do we have to live in a world that seems hyper aware of every word said? I have no great answer to the former, but the latter obviously comes from some people’s self-centred view that sees them incapable of looking at the world through someone else’s eyes. It would seem we still need the reminder to play nice in the sandbox.

Hopefully this doesn’t offend anyone and land me in language lockdown…

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