Facebook apologized for flagging and removing a passage from the Declaration of Independence.

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Facebook says it’s sorry for censoring part of the Declaration of Independence

Its moderation system flagged a reference to Native Americans.


Kris Seavers


Posted on Jul 5, 2018   Updated on May 21, 2021, 11:49 am CDT

Facebook has apologized for censoring a passage from the Declaration of Independence posted by a Texas newspaper and flagged as hate speechBusiness Insider reports.

A small community publication in Liberty County called The Vindicator posted excerpts from the historical document ahead of the Fourth of July. A post citing one particular passage was removed by Facebook’s content moderation system due to its reference of Native Americans, Quartz reported. Here’s the offending sentence:

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

Following Quartz’s report, Facebook said the words “Indian Savages” could violate its guidelines were they not from the Declaration of Independence. The social media platform apologized to The Vindicator for the oversight, and the passage was reposted.

“The post was removed by mistake and restored as soon as we looked into it. We process millions of reports each week, and sometimes we get things wrong,” a spokesperson said in a statement to Quartz.

The incident is the latest in a series of Facebook’s hate speech censors—which combine human and automated forces—gone wrong. And as The Vindicator‘s managing editor Casey Stinnett explained Quartz, even a seemingly small mistake could have much bigger consequences if its moderation system pulled the plug on the newspaper’s page.

“The problem the Vindicator faces is that it has become dependent, perhaps too dependent, on Facebook to communicate with local residents and to promote the newspaper,” Stinnett said.

H/T Business Insider

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*First Published: Jul 5, 2018, 5:59 pm CDT