A Facebook spokesperson has confirmed the site partners with the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to help police hate speech on its site. The spokesperson added that Facebook has its own definition of hate that differs from the SPLC’s.
In an interview, Facebook spokesperson Ruchika Budhraja told The Daily Caller News Foundation that the SPLC is one of the “external experts and organization” that Facebook relies on in order to shape its hate speech and hate group policies.
As the Media Research Center outlined in its report, “CENSORED! How Online Media Companies Are Suppressing Conservative Speech,” the SPLC has been influencing social media companies. The SPLC has labeled conservative organizations as “hate groups” because of their positions, which was cited by a man when he shot up the Family Research Council. The SPLC has been criticized for having more than six times its annual budget “and $328 million in net assets on its 2015 Form 990,” wrote the Free Beacon.
Budhraja made it clear that Facebook differs from the SPLC when it comes to what speech and groups it finds acceptable on the site. This has led the SPLC to condemn Facebook for not being tough enough on what it deems hate.
An SPLC expert in internet extremism, Heidi Beirich, told Forbes last year, “I don't understand their definition of hate speech.”
Budhraja told TheDCNF, “We have our own process and our processes are different and I think that’s why we get the criticism [from the SPLC], because organizations that are hate organizations by their standards don’t match ours.”
“That doesn’t mean that we don’t have a process in place, and that definitely doesn’t mean we want the platform to be a place for hate but we aren’t going to map to the SPLC’s list or process,” she added.
In August 2017, CNN reported that Facebook had removed just 57 out of the “more than 200” groups the SPLC had flagged as hate groups on the site. At the time, Keegan Hankes, an analyst for the SPLC, said Facebook is “not doing nearly enough to combat organized hate groups on the platform.”
The SPLC also discussed the “persistence of anti-Muslim hate on Facebook” in May 2018. In the same month, Motherboard shared Facebook moderation training guidelines that took a nuanced approach in differentiating between white supremacy, white nationalism, and white separatism.
In addition to explaining that Facebook does not solely rely on the SPLC’s definition of hate, Budhraja said that Facebook reportedly discusses its hate policies with groups across the political spectrum.