Facebook faces online hate protest

October 15, 2013 Agencies
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The Melbourne-based Online Hate Prevention Institute has played an integral role in a protest by more than 75 people at Facebook HQ in Menlo Park Calfornia over the issue of antisemitism and Holocaust denial on the social media platform.

Protesting outside Facebook HQ

Protesting outside Facebook HQ

Copies of petition with over 650 signatures, created in cooperation between OHPI here in Australia and the protest organisers led by Michael Mendelson in the US,  were given to Facebook. A letter of support from OHPI was also handed out to all those attending the protest.

The letter, signed off by OHPI’s CEO Andre Oboler, said:  “The Online Hate Prevention Institutes congratulates you on your determination and efforts in drawing attention to the problem of antisemitism, Holocaust denial, and other forms of hate speech on Facebook. More specifically, we congratulate you in drawing attention to the inadequacy of Facebook’s response to this problem.

Facebook has a problem with people abusing their system to spread hate speech in violation of their terms of service. We recognize that this is an unwanted by product that is part of the nature of any social media business. Just as pollution is a by-product of manufacturing businesses. Just as major manufacturers have an obligation to minimize pollution, so too does Facebook have an obligation to stop hate speech. Facebook provides people with a megaphone, and when this megaphone is abuse to spread hate speech, individuals and communities are harmed. We believe Facebook is not doing nearly enough to mitigate the problem.

As Facebook users, all of you do your part to help Facebook stay ahead of the game in responding to hate speech. When you report images, posts, and pages this flags them for the attention of Facebook staff. You are Facebook’s eyes and ears. There is a social contract between the users and the platform, one based on the terms of service and the statement of rights and responsibilities. Users help identify breaches of the rules, and Facebook takes action. Unfortunately, Facebook is not living up to its side of this bargain. More often than not, legitimate reports of hate speech are rejected by Facebook staff. This is an insult to Facebook users the world over. It is a problem related to Facebook itself, and not those who originally upload the hate speech. We understand there will be abuse, but don’t understand Facebook’s unwillingness to properly respond to users reports.

Our petition, which any of you have signed, calls for six changes to enable a better respond to the problem. We hope Facebook notes these recommendations which are both reasonable and practical. They will improve the Facebook experience for all of us, including Facebook itself. A better Facebook would not be only good for users, but also for Facebook’s shareholders.

Finally, we congratulate Michael Mendelson on his amazing work, both in organising the protest and in bringing together so many people dedicated to making a difference.

So what’s next? With Michael’s help, and your own, OHPI hope to soon raise enough money to build an online platform where people can make and evaluate reports outside the Facebook framework. This will empower the public, enable us to monitor Facebook’s response to complaints, and together hold Facebook accountable. The appeal is only open for 3 more weeks, so please visit www.ohpi.org.au/appeal (which will take you to our Indiegogo campaign) and help build on today’s efforts and take this next step towards real change.”

Around 19% of the petition supporters come from Australia.

Dr Andre Oboler told J-Wire, “Despite the distance, the Online Hate Prevention institute was proud to have played such an active role in supporting this protest. We were the first to endorse the protest and were joined by major organisations like the ZOA, StandWithUs, and many others, both real organisations and pages and groups from Facebook itself. Together we can make a difference. Facebook’s special exception for Holocaust denial and their difficulty recognising antisemitism must change, and we’ll keep pushing until it does.”


3 Responses to “Facebook faces online hate protest”
  1. John says:

    Despite Dr, Oboler’s claim to be instrumental in the event, he could not bring himself to attend an event that only had 15 attendees (according to local police and media outlets). More significantly, in this event, Oboler has chosen to stand next to such folks as Pamella Geller – known anti-Islam hate monger.

    • David says:

      The article mention 75 attendees. John says 15. Why should Dr Oboler to be expected to attend an event like this on the other side of the planet?
      BTW I am looking forward to Pamela Geller’s visit to Melbourne early next year (March 7-9) for the SION (Stop Islamization of Nations) World Conference.

    • art says:

      Pamella Geller is not an anti-Islam hate monger! She just publicizes the truth.

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