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According to Elizabeth Cohen, associate professor of communication studies at West Virginia University, Facebook’s analysis of the hate speech expressed by Louis Farrakhan and Alex Jones as dangerous is correct because they have a large following and wield a lot of influence. Banning Farrakhan and Jones “makes a statement,” Cohen said.
“Banning these high-profile figures sends the message to the public that Facebook is serious about cracking down on abusive and inciteful hate speech. The question now is whether this is a mostly symbolic gesture or whether Facebook is going to become more forceful as an arbiter of speech. Although influential, the public figures that Facebook banned this week are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to hate speech restriction. In the past, Facebook has not been very successful at moderating hate speech on its platform, in part because they have inappropriate resources to do so and in part because they have lacked the motivation. It remains to be seen if either of these factors will change.” —Elizabeth Cohen, associate professor of communication studies
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CONTACT: Elizabeth Cohen
Associate Professor, Communication Studies
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