It’s So Bad That SA’s Human Rights Commission Are Asking Facebook To Block The K-Word
It seems like there’s a new Facebook racist scandal every week – ‘ol Penny, Matthew Theunissen and Joost hater Riaan Lucas, for example.
So does Facebook have a responsibility to censor what people are able to post, or is their role to encourage freedom of expression?
If you ask the director of public policy for Facebook’s Africa division, Ebele Okobi, it is certainly the latter. Okobi says that social media only mirrors what sentiments are already out there, and platforms like Facebook are just an easy scapegoat.
Okobi was speaking at a hearing into racism and social media, hosted by the SA Human Rights Commission in Jozi yesterday, with more from News24:
The hearing, which continues on Thursday, is gathering submissions from policy makers, regulatory bodies, civil society organisations, academics, and researchers.
It is not aimed at investigating particular cases, but intended to arrive at a better understanding what constitutes online hate speech.
The SAHRC wants the public, government and companies such as Facebook to take some responsibility for their roles and come up with solutions on how to deal with hate speech.
Included in that responsibility is the possibility of moderating certain words before they’re published, a question posed by the likes of SAHRC chairperson advocate Bongani Majola and former ConCourt judge Albie Sachs.
Yes, that word.
More from Okobi:
The positive aspect of not regulating content was that it encouraged people to talk about matters they often felt too uncomfortable to discuss with others face to face, she said.
“You want to make sure that that speech is not speech that makes it an uncomfortable platform to be on, but I think all societies owe it to themselves, owe it to citizens, to look at why that speech is happening.”
She said Facebook, government and the public could help start an honest conversation about what was happening in the country.
“Sometimes that dialogue is going to awaken hurts that people thought were gone, but I think that that type of constructive dialogue is critical in building a society that actually works.
“And that’s true here in South Africa and it’s also true in other places in the world where we are having some of these conversations,” she said.
I guess that’s good news for those who enjoy spewing hate and vitriol online, although as we have all seen it only takes one screenshot of a hastily deleted post to set the wheels in motion.
Think before you post, and don’t be a dickhead online.
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