Facebook has a problem in “black” and “white,” black activists charge, where even pointing out racism or racist posts or mentioning the word “black” as in “black-owned business” can get the post taken down for violating “hate speech” standards and lead to a suspension of the user’s account.
Activists call it being “Zucked,” USA Today reports, a reference to Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and the activists say they’re fed up.
Teacher Carolyn Wysinger is one of them. She says Facebook suspended her account and deleted a post in which she pointed out the racism she saw in actor Liam Neeson’s admission that he dreamed of hunting down and killing a black man, any black man, after a white female friend of his said she was raped by a man who happened to be black.
Her comment, “White men are so fragile, and the mere presence of a black person challenges every single thing in them,” got her suspended, or put into what many activists refer to as “Facebook jail.”
“It is exhausting,” Wysinger told Facebook, “and it drains you emotionally.”
As USA Today notes:
Black activists say hate speech policies and content moderation systems formulated by a company built by and dominated by white men fail the very people Facebook claims it’s trying to protect. Not only are the voices of marginalized groups disproportionately stifled, Facebook rarely takes action on repeated reports of racial slurs, violent threats and harassment campaigns targeting black users, they say.
Many of these users now think twice before posting updates on Facebook or they limit how widely their posts are shared. Yet few can afford to leave the single-largest and most powerful social media platform for sharing information and creating community.
According to the news outlet, Neil Potts, public policy director at Facebook, acknowledged “that Facebook doesn’t always read the room correctly, confusing advocacy and commentary on racism and white complicity in anti-blackness with attacks on a protected group of people.”
Facebook is looking into ways to identify when oppressed or marginalized users are “speaking to power,” Potts says. And it’s conducting ongoing research into the experiences of the black community on its platform.
But in an interview with The Root, Tanya Faison, founder of Black Lives Matter Sacramento, said Facebook has been failing at this for far too long.
“We have been addressing this problem with Facebook since 2016,” Faison said in a texted message. “How hard is it to not enact racist rules and double standards? It has become way too common now.
“I get tons of racist language thrown at me regularly on Facebook and none of the posts ‘violate community standards,’” she continued, “but if you just say the word ‘white’ you are all of the sudden accused of saying hate speech.”