For a brief period earlier today, Facebook asked at least some of its users to report whether every single post in their feed contained hate speech. Right above where one would normally like or comment on a post, Facebook users were asked: “Does this post contain hate speech?” For users who saw this request today, it appeared on all user-generated posts within the newsfeed and even on advertisements.
Facebook tells Gizmodo that “this was an internal test we were working on to understand different types of speech, including speech we thought would not be hate. A bug caused it to launch publicly. It’s been disabled.”
One Facebook user discovered that clicking “Yes” on the prompt revealed three buttons labeled as “Test P 1,” “Test P 2,” and “Test P 3,” indicating the rollout was at least premature.
when you click the "yes" button on the "Does this post contain hate speech?" prompt on facebook you're presented with a form that clearly wasn't supposed to be pushed to live.
What a terrible website. pic.twitter.com/s8OkovU78A
— Kay Fabe Hutchinson (@LonestarTallBoi) May 1, 2018
According to Facebook’s own guidelines, hate speech includes: “Content that attacks people based on their actual or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, disability or disease is not allowed.” So, potentially asking over two billion users if every post they come across contains hate speech doesn’t seem like a great use of users’ or Facebook’s time.
Facebook often runs limited tests on potential features for the platform. On Monday, the Guardian reported that in Australia and New Zealand the company tested a Reddit-like feature that enabled users to down vote comments.