The dominant social media network pretty regularly runs into embarrassment when it comes to social media management. Last week was no exception.
On the week of the July 4 holiday, Facebook flagged as hate speech and removed a passage from the Declaration of Independence posted by a small Texas newspaper. According to CNN, the Liberty County Vindicator had been posting bits of the document in the days leading up to July 4 when the paper received a notice from Facebook that one the passages it had posted violated Facebook hate speech policies.
The Guardian reports that the passage in question, referring to Native Americans as, “Indian savages,” has often been cited as evidence of the United States’ inhumane attitude toward indigenous peoples. According to the Guardian:
Casey Stinnett, the managing editor of the paper, said in a post on the site on Monday that the removal also put them in a “a quandary about whether to continue with posting the final two parts of the declaration … should Facebook find anything in them offensive, the Vindicator could lose its Facebook page”.
Facebook later realized its mistake and reinstated the post.
But the incident is an example of one of the most difficult social media management issues facing the company—how to regulate content while relying on technology to do so. The Guardian reports that Facebook has made similar social media management mistakes in the past:
Earlier this year, an account dedicated to LGBT History posted the 1992 Zoe Leonard poem I Want A President, which has the opening line: “I want a dyke for president.” The poem, which has previously been displayed in a 20ft by 30ft piece of public art in New York, was removed by Instagram for violating its community standards. In response, hundreds of other accounts also posted the poem, with Instagram playing whack-a-mole trying to remove them. The chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles was among a number of influential art and literary figures that posted the poem and had it removed by the site. After a days of removals, Instagram apologised, said there had been a “mistake” and reinstated the posts.