You had to figure the more attention platforms like Facebook and Twitter got for allowing hate-speech, the quicker they would act to try and prevent it. They can’t stop it entirely, but both sites have taken steps to curb what has been an increasingly growing problem.
While they have not been able to remove all extremist groups, they have done a good job of limiting their reach. Yet, that has not stopped those very groups from trying to find other avenues with which to spread their messages.
There are plenty of avenues to which they can turn, as the internet is a big place. But it turns out they have latched onto a different social media platform, one you may not have thought much about in a while.
It’s your problem now, Google
Remember Google Plus? It launched in 2011 as a competitor to Facebook and while it wasn’t bad, fell considerably short of that goal.
Well, it’s still around and has become a haven for Nazi and other extremist groups. Explicitly racist and anti-Semitic content has been posted by multiple groups, which have also established Google Plus communities.
The communities have membership totals that range from the hundreds into the thousands.
Google is understandably not happy about it, and told “the Independent” that it has “more to do” in order to address the issue.
Part of that includes putting dedicated teams together to combat it. There are rules against the kind of content they are posting, as Google’s policy states that while their platforms are for free expression, there are limits..
According to their policy, Google does not support “content that promotes or condones violence against individuals or groups based on race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, nationality, veteran status, or sexual orientation/gender identity, or whose primary purpose is inciting hatred on the basis of these characteristics.”
It’s a tough problem to solve
Part of the appeal of Google Plus was that while there have always been rules and regulations in place, the policing was done largely by the community itself. If people did not report posts, then there was a chance Google wouldn’t know about them.
That of course left them vulnerable, especially if fewer people ever logged onto the site to begin with. In 2015, Google Plus had a reported 111 million active users. While an older number, yes, it is still quite a bit lower than the 2.2 billion Facebook reported in January 2018.
Aside from that, there is also the challenge platforms like this face in regulating speech. They do not want to be seen as biased one way or another and instead want people to have a sense of freedom when logged on.
Yet, at the same time they want to make sure the experience is safe and pleasant, which means a line has to be drawn somewhere. In this case Google has a clear policy against hate speech, so there’s little gray area there.