Declaration_of_Independence

This will give you confidence in those online algorithms.

Or not.

According to a report in Reason, Facebook flagged and removed a post consisting almost entirely of text from the Declaration of Independence.

As “hate.”

The removal confirmed the inability of Facebook’s system to tell the difference between “white nationalist ravings” and the “writing of Thomas Jefferson,” the report said.

The excerpt, which had been posted by a small community newspaper in Texas, “violated the social media site’s policies against hate speech,” reported Reason.

Reason said that since June 24, the Liberty County Vindicator of Liberty County, Texas, has been sharing daily excerpts from the Declaration in the run up to July Fourth.

“The idea was to encourage historical literacy among the Vindicator’s readers,” Reason reported, noting the first nine such posts of the project went up without incident.

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However, the paper’s managing editor, Casey Stinnett, noted that part 10 did not appear.

The Vindicator received a notice from Facebook saying that the post “goes against our standards on hate speech.”

The report said the post included paragraphs 27 through 31 of the Declaration of Independence, in which the Founders outline their irreconcilable differences with King George III.

The report noted the section includes complaints against the king for inciting “domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages.”

The paper, fearing it would be eliminated entirely from Facebook, stopped the series.

Stinnett pointed out the “silliness” of the incident.

Reason warned it demonstrates “a problem with automated enforcement of hate-speech policies, which is that a robot trained to spot politically incorrect language isn’t smart enough to detect when that language is part of a historically significant document.”

 

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