Dear Facebook,

I'm actually an adult. I realize that not everyone on your site is--but really, it's where us old fogies hang out. As such, I don't need a parent, or a teacher, or a human resources manager to monitor things for me.

See, it's totally creepy when you started asking if every post was hate speech. Not every user has been so lucky as to get this tag on each post, but some are. And it's ridiculous. My nephew's fly away Count Olaf style hair, for instance, is hilarious, but not hate speech.

And this article by Braden Bell, about how we should be nicer to each other on the internet, is really not hate speech. And kind of ironic that you would ask. 

See, I get that you're a private company. And as an HR person, I also get that even adults love to run and tattle on each other. But your human resources manager isn't the playground monitor and Facebook shouldn't be either. It's super creepy and kind of flies in the face of Mark Zuckerberg's testimony that he wasn't trying to censor people.

And while we're at it, what is hate speech? Is it speech that is mean? What about a speech about a sincerely held belief that someone disagrees with? Heck, I once made a joke about vegans that resulted in a full on attack from a long time acquaintance who had gone vegan a couple of years ago. I'm sure he would have marked my joke as hate speech. Instead, he blocked me. 

Whenever I write about Megyn Kelly my email inbox fills up with death threats from both sides of the aisle. I laugh about them, because really? 

If someone says something so awful that I don't want to see it again, you have already given me the tools to get it out of my feed. 

I understand this is an experiment. It's a bad one. It's going to get political very, very fast. People can gather their friends to go mark their political opponents' posts as hate speech. Teach the algorithm that certain ideas are hateful.

The way to fight horrible ideas is with more speech. Not by running to Big Brother. While you can certainly do what you want, I suggest that if you want to keep people on your website, you'll let this hate speech experiment fail.

Sincerely,

Suzanne

Published on: May 1, 2018