Pop quiz: Which group is protected by Facebook’s secret censorship algorithm?
a. Female drivers
b. Black children
c. White men
The correct answer is c.
That’s not hyperbolic conjecture meant to incite a reactionary response. These are actual choices Facebook used to train the thousands of censors responsible for regulating hate speech on the site. In a new investigative report, ProPublica recently reviewed a trove of Facebook’s internal documents that reveal how the company’s policy protects the woefully oppressed white men but allows white supremacist groups and anti-Muslim speech.
For instance, after last month’s terrorist attacks, Facebook didn’t have a problem when Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.) posted this status:
Of course, some would say that a U.S. official publicly stating that it is OK to kill members of a certain religion is the definition of “un-American,” but others would argue that it is part of his God-given right to free expression, and Facebook has a responsibility to protect his First Amendment rights—which is all true.
So why, then, did Facebook delete Black Lives Matter activist and poet DiDi Delgado’s post when she posted the following:
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In case you’re wondering, the scratched-out word is “racist.”
Facebook can explain it clearly. White people are what it calls a “protected category”—a large group of people whom it protects against hate speech. Facebook argued that Higgins’ (must we still put the little “R” beside his name to designate that he is a Republican? Do you know of any Democrats named “Clay” besides Clay Davis from The Wire?) post was only directed at radicalized Muslims, which is a subset of a protected class, like black children, anyone overweight, anti-racism protesters, old people or female drivers. Apparently Facebook is perfectly fine with people suggesting that those groups be killed.
According to ProPublica, Facebook also bans any “calls for exclusion,” but apparently white men are excluded from this, too. Why do I say this?
- Because the white supremacist rants of Jeremy Christian—the man who went on a racist stabbing spree on a Portland, Ore., commuter train—are still on the site even after he asked his followers to join him in physically attacking Hillary Clinton supporters;
- Because Sean Urbanski—who allegedly stabbed Army Officer Richard Collins III to death—was a member of a neo-Nazi Facebook group called Alt Reich: Nation. The page is still up;
- Because Facebook does not allow discrimination for any reason based on religion, but Mark Zuckerberg publicly exempted Donald Trump from this policy when the manila-envelope-colored dope announced his travel ban;
- Because Facebook uses the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations to ban certain groups, but a cursory search on Facebook returned more than 122 Ku Klux Klan groups (I actually stopped counting) and more Nazi groups than there were actual Nazis during World War II.
But these are white men, so it’s OK if they call for white people to “hunt” Muslims, as long as they don’t call out white people for being racist. It’s OK for violent hate groups to congregate on the site, as long as their terrorist activities are limited to knives slitting black throats. Facebook is perfectly OK with it. Facebook has written it down and trained 4,000-plus people to recognize it when they see it. Even Clay Higgins knows it.
But if you want to speak out against white men on Facebook, well, then, as the iconic, fictional Baltimore city councilman and philosopher Clay Davis once said: