Facebook Removes Text of the Declaration of Independence as “Hate Speech”
LIBERTY COUNTY, TEXAS — July 5, 2018
America's founding document, the Declaration of Independence, turns out to be too politically incorrect for Facebook's hate speech seeking Algorithm.
It started when the Liberty County Vindicator based in Texas started sharing daily excerpts from the declaration in the days leading up to the July Fourth.
"The idea was to encourage historical literacy among the Vindicator's readers," said the Vindicator's managing editor Casey Stinnett.
The first nine posts of the project went up without any problems.
"But part 10," writes Vindicator managing editor Casey Stinnett, "did not appear. Instead, The Vindicator received a notice from Facebook saying that the post 'goes against our standards on hate speech.'"
That post contained paragraphs 27 through 31 of the Declaration of Independence - the grievance section - where the colonists describe their “irreconcilable differences” with King George III.
"I cannot be sure which exact grievance ran afoul of Facebook's policy, but I assume that it's paragraph 31, which excoriates the King for inciting 'domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages.'" Stinnett said.
He has temporarily terminated his work on Facebook, fearing his page might be deleted entirely. He sent a feedback message to Facebook support service with the hope of coming to an understanding.
While unhappy about the decision, Stinnett gave this account of Facebook's actions:
"Facebook is a business corporation, not the government, and as such, it is allowed to restrict the use of its services as long as those restrictions do not violate any laws. In addition, The Vindicator is using Facebook for free, so the newspaper has little grounds for complaint other than the silliness of it."
Stinnett feels that if a robot trained to spot politically incorrect language isn't smart enough to detect when that language is part of a historically significant document, then it is better not to use such programs at all.
"None of this is meant as a defense of referring to Native Americans as "savages." That phrasing is clearly racist and serves as another example of the American Revolution's mixed legacy; one that won crucial liberties for a certain segment of the population, while continuing to deny those same liberties to Native Americans and African slaves. But by allowing the less controversial parts of the declaration to be shared while deleting the reference to "Indian savages," Facebook succeeds only in whitewashing America's founding just as we get ready to celebrate it." Stinnett concluded.
Facebook has recently been criticized not only for algorithm accidents, but for censoring certain political views in what some are saying violates freedom of the press, and freedom of expression. Some feel Facebook's policies tend to focus on creating a generally user friendly environment at the expense of user's personal freedoms.