back to article EU court to rule whether Facebook should seek and destroy hate speech

The European Court of Justice has been asked to decide whether Facebook should actively search for hate speech posted by users. The referral was made by the Austrian Supreme Court as a result of a case brought by former Austrian Green party leader Eva Glawischnig. Glawischnig was subject to hate speech on the platform by a …

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Very selective actions...

Oh dear, hate speech. That's obviously an outrage so we're going to target the platform which posts them, while obviously ignoring the original source because... $effort, and who cares about those anyway? After all: Facebook is rich and you can probably squeeze 'm out a little, nice for your personal wallet. Those sources are obviously (warning: stereotyping!) unemployed and uneducated people so even if you do take the effort of finding them you won't be able to fine them.

Poor politicians, I can almost hear them thinking: "Who ever came up with that bizarre idea of free speech? It's so annoying!".

No: I do not condone hate speech and I fully agree that death wishes and all that garbage has no place on the Internet. But there's also something as: Don't shoot the messenger. This symptom fighting will only help the EU with handing out fines and generating some extra income (which is another issue of mine: what good does it do to hand out fines? who, other than the finee(?) benefits from that?).

If someone is misbehaving and breaking the law whilst doing so then hold them accountable. Yes, that won't be easy, but at least you'll actually change something (somewhat) when you do. This accounts for nothing, and only financially benefits the EU.

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Re: Very selective actions...

It's the thin end of the wedge. We can already see how anti terror laws in the UK (as an example) are being used for petty non-terror related incidents. Now we're entering a phase where "hate speech" should be banned. But what is hate speech? Where is the list stating those crimes?

In my opinion free speech works both ways. There is a freedom to make statements to what you hold true to yourself and statements you feel are fact, but there should also be the freedom to argue against that. Freedom of speech allows the freedom to insult and be insulted, it allows the freedom of expression of a point and the anhialation of a point. If we're suddenly going to stop and prevent nasty things from being said we are losing our freedom of speech no matter what it is for. In this case, we lose the freedom of speech to educate and inform others why such a point is wrong.

If someone says something hateful, we lose the freedom to take them to task over it, to show others who might be inclined to such a belief or way of thinking that this isn't the right way to think and these are the reasons why. Banning completely is akin to smaking a child for pointing at someone fat in the street without the explanation as to why it was wrong.

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Re: Very selective actions...

You would target a publisher publishing such material or a shop owner selling iffy goods - why not facebook?

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Re: Very selective actions...

why not facebook?

Excellent idea. Lets provide a list of things politicians don't like to be said, and have Big Tech auto-delete that content. That'll work well won't it? The same rules obviously should apply to conventional publishers, so that's the end of Private Eye, and the final nail in the coffin of the sort of investigative journalism that so annoys the Establishment - you know MPs expenses, Wikileaks and "special rendition", Panama papers and the tax dodging by the global elite, etc etc etc.

THAT is why not. Despite the fact that I dislike all forms of social media and limit my engagement as far as possible.

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The Reason For Limiting Words

There are a number of ways in that hate should be allowed to be expressed, I do not feel that hate itself is an unreasonable emotion in all circumstances. To take a moderately neutral example, there are some foods I personally hate, fish of all types, the smell can make me wretch and there is a small risk of allergy to some. I really dislike and will not eat some highly flavoured dishes, perhaps I even hate them too, so far so reasonable. However, I stop short of attacking anyone and it is this assault risk that does need to be controlled. Nothing I have said should raise a rabble to go off and do harm to anyone yet I have written the word hate.

Surely the risks of hate speech only build when it somehow ties to suggesting or proposing action against some group?

"I hate five legged rocks that can run faster than I can they should be smashed into road metal".

I suggest is a theoretical example of hate speech the seeks to stir up action against an identifiable - (though clearly non existent group). So in practice I believe the 'straw figment' is safe from legal assault and can serve to demonstrate one way that the limit on 'hate' should drawn

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Re: The Reason For Limiting Words

I hate violence.

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Happy

Re: Mycho Re: The Reason For Limiting Words

Does that mean you're willing to fight violence?

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Re: Mycho The Reason For Limiting Words

I am willing to face court to defend my right to tell people that violence is shit and does not deserve a place in this world. If they want to defend violence's right to exist then I would suggest they go to hell but I suspect it's a given.

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Re: Mycho Re: Mycho The Reason For Limiting Words

"....violence is shit and does not deserve a place in this world...." And the meek will inherit the Earth? Sorry, but history has shown us countless times that, whilst the majority of the population can get by just fine without violence, there are people that will insist on committing criminal acts that will only be stopped by violent actions. Simply telling them off didn't work.

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Re: Mycho Mycho The Reason For Limiting Words

And more importantly it's okay to hate that.

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Re: Mycho The Reason For Limiting Words

>If they want to defend violence's right to exist then I would suggest they go to hell

But isn't hell a place where violence is perpetuated for the rest of eternity on everyone there?

So you are comfortable assigning someone to an eternity of violence if they disagree with your views on violence?

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@eldakka

You win.

Now go to Milton Keynes.

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It rather depends whether you think facebook is a publisher or the equivalent of a shop owner, both of whom would be done for publishing iffy material or selling iffy goods. Apparently facebook is neither (presumably because it would cost them money to admit as such). As far as hate speech is concerned its a tricky point - there should be limits however.

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"Apparently facebook is neither"

Facebook CLAIM tehy are neither. In fact they are acting as both

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Anonymous Coward

"[...] or a shop owner selling iffy goods [...]"

Assuming the shop owner knew they were iffy goods. Ultimate responsibility lies with the supply chain right back to the source. Publishers normally take legal advice before publishing something.

In both cases it can be assumed that someone in the chain has made a deliberate decision to pass the goods as legal. That's why there are markings like "CE" etc to act as a validation stamp.

Postings on the internet are like cold calls and junk mail etc - the phone/postal service delivers them in good faith unless it is obvious the contents are illegal. Any subsequent prosecution is of the sender - not the carrier.

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"Postings on the internet are like cold calls and junk mail etc - the phone/postal service delivers them in good faith unless it is obvious the contents are illegal."

I don't think tht's a good analogy. The postal system, by design, does not know anything about a letter or packet except destination and (sometimes) sender. Same with the phone system, all it 'knows' is caller and receiver (with modern systems collecting some more metadata especially in case of mobile phones). In neither case does any system know anything about content.

Facebook pretends that it is the same sort of 'dumb pipe' that just connects posters (senders) to people seeing the post (receivers), but in fact they do a very thorough analysis of each post and based on the content and poster they will try to match the best 'receivers' (from their POV, the ones more likely to react or reply). You don't get to say every one of the posts of every one of your contacts otherwise your feed would flood if you had acouple of dozen quite active FB contacts.

FB are ACTIVELY choosing what posts get displayed where. The fact that it mostly happens via algorithm does not change the active input. If they wanted to, they could delete, de-emphasize, block etc etc any post or type of post. They don't WANT to because (a) it costs money to code and maintain and (b) it reduces traffic and therefore revenue.

That's completely leaving aside the free speech issues over whether they should be compelled to do so.

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Big Brother

> The postal system, by design, does not know anything about a letter or packet except destination and (sometimes) sender. Same with the phone system, all it 'knows' is caller and receiver (with modern systems collecting some more metadata especially in case of mobile phones). In neither case does any system know anything about content.

Not true in most modern western post or phone systems.

For postal mail, a lot of central mail sorting/distribution centres will x-ray/scan random packages looking for bombs and so on.

Most postal systems will scan and keep all external surfaces of all mail and make it available to security/intelligence services.

Most of these systems will open items if they are suspicious of the contents or if ordered to by security/intelligence services.

Same applies to the phone systems. In most western phone systems, the major providers are required to provide an eaves-dropping capability.

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Meh

Logistics

I'm just trying to get my head around the logistics. I can see active search functions having a hard time locating so called 'hateful' material. For example considering the language used in a post? I imagine some automated language detection routine could determine which language was used but what if a multi-lingual Arabic, Hebrew, English and Russian message is posted but the first language elements do not contain offensive content, just the last ones? Additionally would the language need to be translated into another language before trying to decide if it is offensive or not?

Sure, FB can code for known delivery mechanisms of offensive content but even I can think of many other ways of posting a message to avoid detection routines (At the moment I'm thinking of pictures of kittens holding up placards, a couple of innocent words in each picture, but all combined to be quite offensive) and if someone is determined to get their message out via FB they will.

Dislike FB as much as I do this doesn't seem like something they can win. My advice would be to shut down the whole system (along with Twitter) but I doubt my wife would speak to me again!

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Re: Logistics

"Dislike FB as much as I do this doesn't seem like something they can win."

Not getting into a fight you can't win is always good advice. Somebody should have given it to FB.

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The big question in all this is, who defines hate speech?

What may be considered as hate speech in one country may be considered as free speech in another. Until there is an agreement worldwide all we are seeing is what some politician or political activist considers hate speech - talk to different people and get different answers.

What the EU (Germany) is doing is just trying to raise tax by an indirect method - nothing else.

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Simple Criteria

The big question in all this is, who defines hate speech?

I think a pretty clear criterium is, does it advocate violence (either physical or mental) against a person or group. An example. Free speech: "The ABCD religion is so stupid". Hate speech: "All adherents of the ABCD religion should be expelled from the country".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Simple Criteria

What about the following:

"Behead those who insult the name of 'religion WXYZ'"?

That is a clear advocation of violence. Isn't it interesting how rarely the proponents of 'religion WXYZ' are held accountable for their hate speech?

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FAIL

Re: Simple Criteria

> "All adherents of the ABCD religion should be expelled from the country"

That statement does not advocate violence, either mental or physical, against anyone. Following that example would then make the following hate speech:

"Anyone who holds citizenship of another country (including dual-citizens) who commits a crime should be expelled from the country"

"Bring back the death penalty for murderers"

Your definition, and example, would stifle public debate about matters that should be open to public debate.

Also, your definition would not pass US 2nd Amendment constitutional scrutiny. For speech to not be covered under the 2nd Amendment it has to either be libellous or intended to incite imminent illegal activity. Therefore if seeking a world-wide definition, that would not be it.

The answer you are looking for for how hate speech is currently, effectively, defined is, if you are a person of authority/influence (i.e. politician, billionaire, big business) then "Anything I don't like" or "I know it when I see it".

And that is the problem with hate-speech laws, they are all ill-defined, pander to specific sets of people, and vary from country (or state/province) to country.

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Facepalm

Re: Simple Criteria

Don't you know that minorities can never be responsible for their actions? It's always the fault of society. Unless you're a white male, in which case everything in society is your fault. Some people just want to watch the (Western) world burn.

Sincerely

A minority

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Re: Simple Criteria

That was sarcasm by the way. Clearly someone couldn't tell

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One man's meat ..

I hate Facebook.

What's to be made of this :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09-Zyk0EIrE

Dated but succint. And obviously still on youtube.

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Translated: Only the fascist Left will decide what's true and what people can know about

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The government wants private companies to do political censorship for them. It is always easier to outsource such censorship as this way it would be applied much stricter, above and beyond, as it will be impossible to challenge.

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Paris Hilton

But where does it stop...

I like to call my partner a homo occasionally and he calls me and some of the things i do gay (playfully obvs, we're gay).

I'm assuming Facebook would censor posts like this for hate speech?

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EU tries to police what people say and think.

And in other news sun is hot, water is wet and somewhere someone is typing something utterly retarded into Twitter.

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