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Hate Online: Yet Another ‘Free Speech’ Reckoning For Social Media

Founder and CEO of US online social media and social networking service Facebook Mark Zuckerberg reacts upon his arrival for a meeting with European Commission vice-president in charge for Values and Transparency, in Brussels.
Founder and CEO of US online social media and social networking service Facebook Mark Zuckerberg reacts upon his arrival for a meeting with European Commission vice-president in charge for Values and Transparency, in Brussels.

Social media companies are supposedly in the business of connecting people.

And they might also be in the business of profiting off of hate speech.

Advertisers like Coca-Cola and Starbucks are boycotting Facebook ads as the company’s ability to moderate hate speech on its platform is coming into question — again. Following the death of George Floyd and the proliferation of conspiracy theories on the social media site, civil rights organizations enlisted the help of corporations to hold the online behemoth accountable.

Facebook, however, has repeatedly stated it has little desire to police the language or content generated by its users.

And Facebook is not alone. YouTube is having its own reckoning. The video-sharing platform pulled ads from the channels of two of its most-established creators, Shane Dawson and Jeffree Star, following the re-circulation of clips of them making racist and offensive remarks.

Critics of YouTube are wondering why it took the company so long to demonetize Dawson given his channel was built largely on depictions of blackface in the early days of the site.

How are social media companies addressing hate speech following protests against racism and police brutality?

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