Facebook apologises after Channel 4 investigation reveals staff told to ignore racist meme in Dublin training session 1 year ago

Facebook apologises after Channel 4 investigation reveals staff told to ignore racist meme in Dublin training session

"You've identified some areas where we've failed, and I'm here today to apologise for those failings."

Facebook has officially apologised following revelations that staff were told to ignore specific racism-based hate speech on their site.

Inside Facebook: Secrets of the Social Network aired on Channel 4 on Tuesday night.

The documentary followed an undercover reporter who spent seven weeks in the company of Facebook moderators, recording video from inside of training sessions relating to reported content.

This content contained graphic and racist imagery created for distribution on social media.

As shown on the Dispatches documentary, those present were briefed for a session on hate speech, which was recorded at the offices of CPL Resources in Dublin.

During this, they were asked to put aside personal opinions "about what is right and what is not" and reminded that they had to adhere to Facebook policy.

This led to the presentation of a racist meme that the moderators used as an example of acceptable content to leave on their platform.

Referring to an image with the caption 'When your daughter's first crush is a little negro boy', the trainer explained that such an image is not one that should necessarily be removed from Facebook.

"This has been around for quite a while," he said.

"This is an 'ignore' because it implies a lot, but to reach the actual violation you have to jump through a lot of hoops to get there.

"There's no attack actually on the negro boy," the trainer continued. "It's implied. But my golden rule is - if you have to jump through too many hoops to actually get to what you're trying to think the content says, you've probably gone too far"

The trainer then added, "So for this one, we should ignore this," before asking those in attendance if they were okay with doing so.

At least one person replied with, "No, not okay" before others in the room broke into laughter.

Facebook removed the content in the wake of Channel 4's revelations, agreeing that the image does violate their rules on hate speech, and promised an internal review to prevent it from happening again.

Richard Allan, Vice President of Global Policy for Facebook, apologised following the investigation.

"We're one of the most heavily scrutinised companies in the world - and that's right," said Allan.

"We have a lot of reach to people in many different countries. It's right that we're held to high standards. We also hold ourselves to high standards.

"You've identified some areas where we've failed, and I'm here today to apologise for those failings and make it clear that we do recognise that they were weaknesses, that we should not be in this position.

"All I can say is that we are committed, wherever failings are brought to our attention, to taking them seriously, to addressing them, and to trying to make sure that we do better in future."