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Facebook Flags Declaration of Independence Excerpt as Hate Speech

Facebook Flags Declaration of Independence Excerpt as Hate Speech
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By    |   Thursday, 05 July 2018 02:14 PM

Facebook flagged the Declaration of Independence as hate speech after a Texas community newspaper posted an excerpt to its page in the week leading up to July 4, The Washington Times noted.

In celebration of Independence Day, the Liberty County Vindicator posted the whole declaration to its account but in 12 small, daily bites. When it came to the 10th excerpt, the post did not appear as scheduled Monday.

Instead, the paper received an automated notice from Facebook stating that the post “goes against our standards on hate speech.”

The Vindicator said it was not certain which sentences were deemed offensive by Facebook but suspected it was the section that states: “He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.”

Managing editor Casey Stinnett quipped that, perhaps if Thomas Jefferson had written it as “Native Americans at a challenging stage of cultural development” it would have been more acceptable.

“Unfortunately, Jefferson, like most British colonists of his day, did not hold an entirely friendly view of Native Americans,” Stinnett wrote.

The following day the post re-appeared but news of the ordeal had spread far and wide. Meanwhile, the social media service contacted The Vindicator, apologizing for the “incorrect action.”

In an email issued to the newspaper, Facebook admitted “we made a mistake and removed something you posted on Facebook that didn’t go against our Community Standards.”

The social media platform added: “We want to apologize and let you know that we’ve restored your content and removed any blocks on your account related to this incorrect action.”

Commenting on the situation, Stinnett noted that “Facebook is a business corporation, not the government, and as such it is allowed to restrict use of its services as long as those restrictions do not violate any laws.”

He added that The Vindicator was using Facebook for free and therefore had “little grounds for complaint other than the silliness of it.”

Facebook inadvertently launched a button earlier this year asking users whether posts on their newsfeed contained hate speech, but the button was resolved shortly after appearing.

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TheWire
Facebook reportedly flagged an excerpt from the Declaration of Independence as hate speech after a Texas community newspaper posted it in the week leading up to July 4.
facebook, declaration of independence, hate, speech
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2018-14-05
Thursday, 05 July 2018 02:14 PM
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