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Facebook Bans Blackface Posts, Anti-Semitic Conspiracies in Updated Hate Speech Policy

The social network’s expanded rules come as it reports 22.5 million pieces of content were pulled in Q2 for violating its hate speech policies

Facebook on Tuesday expanded its hate speech policy, banning users from posting blackface caricatures or anti-Semitic conspiracies, including the claim Jews control the media.

The updated policy also prohibits users from saying Jews run major institutions like the government and the economy. Monika Bickert, Facebook’s head of policy management, said on a call with reporters on Tuesday that “this type of content has always gone against the spirit of our hate speech policies.”

In a preamble explaining the policy update on its blog, Facebook said it removes these posts because it “creates an environment of intimidation” and may lead to real-world violence in some cases. The ban against blackface caricatures and several anti-Semitic claims adds to a number of other posts that violate Facebook’s hate speech rules, including posts that: compare Black people to apes, compare Jews to rats, consider women to be “household objects,” and posts that compare Muslims to pigs. You can find more examples that violate Facebook’s rules here.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said multiple times in the last few years he leans towards allowing most speech on Facebook. But during his testimony before Congress in late July, Zuckerberg said the company is looking to be more proactive in taking down posts that violate its hate speech policies.

“Our goal is to identify [hate speech] before anyone even sees it on the platform,” Zuckerberg said. “And we’ve built AI systems, and as I mentioned, have tens of thousands of people working on safety and security with the goal of getting this stuff down.”

Facebook’s policy update came at the same time it revealed it had removed 22.5 million posts during the second quarter for violating its hate speech rules — up from the 9.6 million posts Facebook took action against between January and March. The company also said it removed 7 million posts for spreading “harmful” COVID-19 misinformation during Q2.