Facebook Censoring Words

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Many online platforms have a “profanity filter” that blocks comments with offensive terms. These filters are useful to some users — for example, those who play multiplayer games that have chat features. Facebook censoring words allow you to block certain words that would otherwise be displayed on your screen, and these can be customized for specific audiences.

How do I change my profanity settings on Facebook?

But censoring words is tricky, and the tools used to do so can have unintended consequences. For example, a few years ago, when protesters were documenting police violence, Facebook moderators blocked their livestreams. This was a mistake. Facebook should not be able to decide what speech is inappropriate on its own.

It’s also difficult to impose limits on speech that’s protected by law or social norms. Last year, documents reviewed by ProPublica showed that candidate Donald Trump’s statements about Muslim immigration appeared to violate Facebook’s policies against calling for the exclusion of a protected group. But, as one person familiar with the decision-making said, the company’s leaders decided that a ban on Muslim immigrants could be seen as a subset of a larger group, Muslims, and so might not qualify as hate speech.

Similarly, we have found that public universities frequently use the profanity filter to prevent their students and alumni from posting critical comments on their Facebook pages. This has the potential to stifle free speech, as demonstrated by the Arkansas State Police’s blocking of a discussion about Silent Sam and Clemson University’s blacklisting of professors who have made disparaging remarks about Republicans.


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