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Facebook 'unlikes' hate speech with new terms for users

Whether it's talk of social media's rapid expansion or protecting American's right to freedom of speech, it seems as if Facebook is the name that pops up most frequently. Probably because the internet giant holds the attention of more than a million users and shows no signs of slowing down. But while the company has prided itself in giving users the ability to connect with people the world over, the site has fallen under scrutiny in the past few months from people who feel it has provided a new outlet for hate speech the world over.

Allowing such content on their site does pose a huge liability issue for Facebook. Users who feel targeted by hateful comments or groups could hold the company responsible for hosting the content in the first place. A similar situation happened recently when women's groups targeted Facebook for allowing Dove to advertise on the site. It's because of scrutiny such as this that Facebook has announced a change in its user's terms of agreement.

According to an announcement made at the end of May, Facebook acknowledged that its systems to identify and remove hate speech had failed to work effectively, particularly when it came to humor-based violence towards women. Marne Levine, vice president of global public policy at Facebook, explains that the social media site will now monitor user pages and will hold users accountable for posting offensive or violent material.

The changes to Facebook's user policy will not just be limited to fighting domestic violence either but could be extended to other more controversial issues that have been mostly set aside by the company in recent months. But the changes do mean that Facebook can relinquish much of its liability over the content it hosts. Users should be forewarned, though, because violations of user agreements could end in serious litigation. The hope among some is that by holding users responsible for what they say, instead of hiding behind anonymity, could make that person less likely to say such hurtful things in the future.

Source: Time Health and Family, "Facebook's Plan to Stop the Hate: Holding Us Accountable," Belinda Luscombe, May 31, 2013

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