Recent tragedies like the Christchurch mosque shootings have brought the issue of online hate into the spotlight. The gunman had previously published articles and updates on social media outlining his racist views. He even livestreamed some of the attack online using Facebook Live.
In order to better understand what social media companies like Facebook and Twitter are doing to combat the spread of hate online, the US Congress organised a special hearing. The Congressional hearing was particularly interested in how businesses are dealing with articles and videos that promote racism, islamophobia and misogyny (among others).
US senators get all the evidence they need
Within minutes of the hearing beginning, the YouTube channel broadcasting proceedings came under attack. Trolls began posting racist and anti-Semitic comments to the live chat function accompanying the stream.
For thirty minutes viewers and US congress men and women were subject to a torrent of abuse until YouTube stepped in and disabled the live chat function.
Facebook restate their commitment to combatting online hate
Giving evidence to the committee, Neil Potts, Facebook director of public policy said, “There is no place for terrorism or hate on Facebook. We remove any content that incites violence.”
Similar promises have been made by other major vendors like Google and Twitter – but many users remain unhappy.
It is believed that these businesses use some kind of algorithm to detect hateful content automatically – but these systems are not fool-proof. Accounts posting racist content are still relatively easy to find Facebook for instance. No matter how good the algorithms for detecting hateful content become, online media companies will still need humans to check and verify content too.
Protecting your family against online hate
Virtually any online community is vulnerable to trolls sharing disagreeable content. To help reduce the risk of children being exposed to inappropriate videos, many sites like Facebook and Twitter operate age-restrictions banning younger people from joining. You should always respect these limits for the sake of your kids.
Another way to protect your family is through the use of content filtering. Tools like Panda Dome Advanced offer parental controls that can be configured to automatically block access to websites that are known to host hate content. The controls are fully configurable too, so you can add to the list of banned sites and apps if you encounter something harmful.
Finally, train your kids in how to spot and report hate content. Helping children understand what discrimination and hatred looks like will help them protect themselves on and off-line. Each of the major online services – Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat – provide tools for reporting pages and accounts that are posting hateful content. So if your kids know how to report hate, they can better protect their friends too.
Sadly, hateful content continues to appear online – as the US Congressional hearing discovered. Until Internet firms develop a fool-proof system to block it, parents will need to use several tools and techniques to protect their families. And you can make a start today by downloading a free trial of Panda Security.