SAY YOU’RE A white supremacist who happens to hate Jewish people—or black people, Muslim people, Latino people, take your pick. Today, you can communicate those views onlineany number of ways without setting off many tech companies’ anti-hate-speech alarm bells. And that’s a problem.
As the tech industry walks the narrow path between free speech and hate speech, it allows people with extremist ideologies to promote brands and beliefs on their platforms, as long as the violent rhetoric is swapped out for dog whistles and obfuscating language. All the while, social media platforms allow these groups to amass and recruit followers under the guise of peaceful protest. The deadly riots in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend reveal they’re anything but. Now it’s up to those same tech companies to adjust their approaches to online hate—as companies like GoDaddy and Discord did on Monday, by shutting down hate groups on their services—or risk enabling more offline violence in the future.
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