In recent months, internet giants including Google and Facebook have had to step up their fights against hate speech. However, they only seldom present a united front against bigotry. That might improve after today, though. Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Microsoft are forging a partnership with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on a Cyberhate Problem-Solving Lab that strives to stem the tide of online hate. The ADL will grant policy considerations and understanding regarding how internet hate evolves, while the firms will focus on “technical solutions” that will keep hateful behaviour at bay.
This is not the first rodeo for either side. In 2014, past partnerships led to ADL producing a “best practices” guide for combating hate. However, this effort is more involved. They are aspiring to develop technology that could remove or block hate, not just recommendations that the companies that are involved do not have to adopt. Whatever comes out of the lab could hold a substantial effect on how users experience the internet, whether it is a decline in harassment or fewer places for producers of hate to hide from.
Whether or not measures will be effective is another matter. Purveyors of hate speech tend to be slippery — they switch accounts, tactics, and provider to get their message across when they are kicked out or blocked. If there is going to be a solution that is long-lasting, it will have to involve a flexible and comprehensive approach that gives hatemongers more than a temporary inconvenience.