‘We can’t let the people decide’: US lawmakers want Facebook to remove ‘hate speech’
We are in a period of rapid social change and many of us want to be part of it.
But how do we get there?
How do we make sure that we’re not allowing hate speech to infect our communities and create division?
That’s why US Representative Jared Huffman and Senator Mike Lee have introduced the Hate Speech Act, which would make it a federal crime to use social media to “publicly and repeatedly” promote hate, discrimination or bigotry.
In addition to making it a felony, the bill would require that websites that fail to remove hate speech from their platforms face a civil penalty.
The bill also proposes new regulations to ensure that hate speech is not amplified on social media platforms.
“We can only have an inclusive society if we are inclusive of all,” Huffman told the AP.
“We are a nation of immigrants and we are a country that celebrates diversity and inclusion.
We can’t have hate speech spread on our platform.”
The bill’s sponsors include Huffman, Lee, Senator Richard Blumenthal, and Senator Chris Coons, who have worked together to fight discrimination in the workplace and social media.
It’s a message shared by the Congressional Black Caucus, which said it’s disappointed with the bill’s lack of teeth.
“As we’ve seen in recent years, hate speech and harassment has been a problem on the internet, in all forms of media, from news sites to social media,” said Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., who co-sponsored the bill.
“But now we have legislation that puts this in the criminal code.
That sends a message to hate speech that the law will not tolerate it.”
We need to be vigilant about what is being said online, Richmond added.
“The goal should be to have a strong civil rights enforcement mechanism.
This bill is a step in the wrong direction.”
While the bill is only one part of a broader civil rights agenda, the focus is clearly on internet safety.
In the US, the number of hate-related cases has increased dramatically in recent months, with the number from January to September climbing from 563 to 730, according to data from the Southern Poverty Law Center.
In a speech to the National Association of Black Journalists on Monday, President Donald Trump reiterated that his administration is committed to combating online hate, including encouraging federal agencies to investigate and prosecute hate crimes.
In the bill, Huffman also mentioned Facebook’s controversial removal of posts by Milo Yiannopoulos, a conservative commentator and Breitbart editor who was banned from the social network in September for encouraging violence against women and people of color.
Yiannopoulos has long promoted violence against black people and Jews.
In January, he was among a group of white supremacists who vandalized the Confederate flag at the site of a historically black university.