Microsoft Attacks Hate Speech On Its Sites

As trolls increasingly threaten the quality of consumers’ digital experiences, Microsoft is cracking down on these insidious haters.  

“We are refining some of our processes to make it easier for customers to report hate speech,” Jacqueline Beauchere, Microsoft chief online safety officer, notes in a new blog post.

As part of this effort, the Web giant is launching a new dedicated Web form for reporting hate speech on its hosted consumer services.

To prevent mistakenly silencing well-intentioned users, Microsoft is simplifying requests to reinstate content that customers feel was removed in error, and adding a separate Web form for requests to reconsider and reinstate content.

The changes add to Microsoft’s existing “notice-and-takedown” approach for removing prohibited content on hosted consumer services.

More broadly, the company says it is working with the wider Web community to combat offensive content online. “We work with governments, online safety advocates and other technology companies to ensure there is no place on our hosted consumer services for conduct that incites violence and hate,” according to Beauchere.

Microsoft recently joined major social media and video-sharing firms in support of the European Commission Code of Conduct countering illegal hate speech online. From sophomoric bullying to more serious threats, trolls have become a major problem for top tech platforms.

Like this latest move from Microsoft, many are countering with aggressive anti-troll efforts. For example, Instagram recently developed several tools that were designed protect users from bad actors.

Of course, online harassment is bigger than any one platform. Indeed, a full 40% of online users report being subjected to some form of harassment online, according to the Pew Research Center.

Harassment has been a particular problem for Twitter. Despite efforts to curb their activity, trolls have scared away some of the network’s most influential users. Earlier this summer, New York Times editor Jon Weisman gave up on the network, given its failure to stem the tide of anti-Semitism being tweeted in his direction.

This month, Twitter permanently suspended the account of conservative commentator Milo Yiannopoulos -- but not before he directed a number of racist and demeaning tweets in the direction of “Saturday Night Live” star Leslie Jones.

Partly as a result, data recently emerged showing that ad agencies are increasingly bypassing Twitter for other social networks -- especially Instagram.

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