Calling on Facebook and Twitter to Combat Hate on MLK Day

Racial Justice

Tackling Hate on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

On a daily basis, we receive reports from individuals who have been targeted for hate speech, bullying, intimidation, and violence – often via social media.

Facebook and Twitter have become the preferred platforms for hate speech and are filled with racist and derogatory taunts against minorities. While hate speech has always been with us, social media intensifies it allowing the spread of racist and discriminatory messages to a wide audience.

In order to stem the tide of hate speech and bullying, we are calling on Facebook and Twitter to take aggressive and proactive steps to combat this conduct. Facebook and Twitter must root out threatening and intimidating messages – especially those targeting racial, ethnic, linguistic, and religious minorities – on their platforms.

Facebook and Twitter profess to want to curb online abuse, but enforcement of their policies on abusive conduct is highly problematic. Their haphazard and under-resourced enforcement practices have a disproportionately negative impact on minority communities. Failure to respond to such incidents sends a broader message of indifference and signals to minorities that they are not valued, and that their histories, experiences, perspectives and voices are not respected. The failure to take more aggressive action – and to protect minority users – is tantamount to facilitating discrimination and raises the specter of liability under federal and state law. At the Lawyers’ Committee, we stand ready to protect our communities against hate speech and hate crimes.

Check out the bilingual “know-your-rights” palm cards we released to fight the wave of hate.

Our call for social media accountability was featured in the Boston Herald and triggered editorials in the Boston Herald, the Daily Progress, and the Indiana Gazette.

The Lawyers’ Committee’s letters to Facebook and Twitter appear below:

LCCR Letter to Facebook re Combating Hate Speech
LCCR Letter to Twitter re Combating Hate Speech