You know, the one close examination I’ve done with respect to Facebook moderation problems started with complaints I received from Arabic speakers in an LGBTQ community I help manage on Facebook.

After the death of a rather prominent Lebanese pop star who identified as a lesbian, many memorials appeared on Facebook in Arabic.

Practically all of them were defaced with extremely insulting comments and calls for violence against LGBTQ people.

In the face of at least hundreds of complaints, Facebook moderation did nothing.

I looked into the problem and went so far as contacting a Reuters reporter who sometimes writes about these issues. He thought about doing a story, but eventually decided not to, telling me “moderation is difficult and these are not easy issues for Facebook.”

But the thing is, the issues weren’t difficult at all. Facebook’s moderation problem stems from the fact that their Arabic-speaking moderators are very few in number and are based in a part of North Africa where their own dialect makes it difficult for them to understand Arabic vernacular in the Levant.

Pair that with Facebook’s unwillingness to actually enforce its policies against hate speech. This is not an infrequent happening in the English-speaking Facebook world, but my Arabic-speaking friends tell me it’s much worse for them.

Hiring a few hundred Arabic-speaking moderators from different parts of the Arabic-speaking world would be a trivial expense for Facebook. That they won’t do that is no more than an indication that they don’t care about moderation if it doesn’t affect them politically.

That’s also why they enforce different standards for Arabic speakers than English speakers.

They don’t care about enforcing their standards, they care about making money, and that’s really pretty much all they care about – in my experience.

The question is not so much that they can’t moderate, but they deliberately choose not to when moderation is not in their interest.

When a company like Facebook or PornHub is making huge profits, then spending money on effective moderation is no more or less than their moral responsibility.

We must hold their feet to the fire, and they must begin to do a much better job.

Written by

Writer. Runner. Marine. Airman. Former LGBTQ and HIV activist. Former ActUpNY and Queer Nation. Polyglot. Middle-aged, uppity faggot.

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