Does Updated Facebook Policy Classify Denying Trans Identities as ‘Hate Speech’?

February 4th, 2020 3:52 PM

Facebook declared in its terms of service update that "denying existence" of people based on “protected characteristics” is a violation of its community standards on "hate speech."

Facebook updated its community standards with little fanfare this past December. In a statement, the social media giant explained that it is forbidden to target a person or group of people on the basis of “aforementioned protected characteristic(s)” or “immigration status.” This included “dehumanizing speech or imagery in the form of comparisons, generalizations, or unqualified behavioral statements to or about” things such as “statements denying existence.”

This same list also forbids users from “mocking the concept” of “hate crimes.”

By these rules, would saying that trans female athletes born as men should not be allowed to participate in female sports constitute an act of “hate speech” amounting to a terms of service violation? What about claiming that “[t]here are only two genders” as PragerU did in a video posted Jan. 14 2020?

The PragerU video posted asserts in a caption that “There are only two genders. Period,” and criticizes Facebook’s dozens of alternative gender options while also criticizing gender theory on a scientific basis. Are we then to conclude that this is not the type of post Facebook is referencing in its updated policy?

In March of 2019, Facebook defined “hate speech” in their policy rationale section as “a direct attack on people based on what we call protected characteristics — race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, caste, sex, gender, gender identity, and serious disease or disability.” Facebook followed this by adding that they include some protections for “immigration status.”

Facebook on this same memo defined an “attack” as “violent or dehumanizing speech, statements of inferiority, or calls for exclusion or segregation.”

The list includes various examples of “dehumanizing,” forbidding users from mocking “Black” and “Mexican” people, while completely omitting any reference to anti-white insults. The list also expressly forbids insulting “Muslim” or “Jewish” people, while ignoring anti-Christian attacks.

Though Facebook does say it allows “criticism of immigration policies and arguments for restricting those policies,” the question remains as to what critiques of immigration and immigrant populations would not be allowed by the platform.

Facebook does attempt to assure the more cynical among us, saying that “We allow humor and social commentary related to these topics” but that “we believe that people are more responsible when they share this kind of commentary using their authentic identity.”