Level 1 |Level 2| Level 3 | Answers

Social media giants Twitter and Facebook have been culling the amount of hate speech found on their platforms. Both companies have had issues with hateful and sometimes violent speech being posted on their websites and both have been criticised for being reluctant to take action against it. In May, Twitter took action against US President Donald Trump over a tweet he made about protests in the country. Twitter elected to hide the tweet behind a warning message. The message stated that the tweet had been hidden for “glorifying violence”, which is against the Twitter terms of service.

The complete warning from Twitter said: “This tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the tweet to remain accessible.” This is the first time that Twitter has taken action against the president of the US. Previously, people had called for Trump to be banned from Twitter as his tweets often break the Twitter terms of service. To highlight Twitter’s bias in favour of Trump, one user created an account called @SuspendThePres. The account started to tweet Trump’s exact tweets to see what would happen. Within a few days, the account had tweets removed and received a temporary ban. The account is still tweeting, with posts regularly being removed.

The floodgates have opened since Twitter’s first action against Trump. They have now been taking action against tweets from the President more often. This has included hiding a video tweet for being “manipulated media”, fact-checking incorrect posts and hiding posts which are hateful or violent. Facebook was criticised for not taking action against the same posts as Twitter with Mark Zuckerberg going so far as to defend the decision himself. This caused indignation amongst Facebook employees who protested the decision by refusing to work. After mounting pressure, Facebook has now also started to monitor posts more closely and take action when necessary. Facebook recently removed an advertisement from the Trump campaign which included a Nazi hate symbol as part of the post.

The recent action hasn’t been limited to the US or the Trump administration. Despite years of taking a hands-off approach, Twitter and Facebook now seem to be tackling far-right speech more frequently. Katie Hopkins, a British person with over 1m followers who has regularly tweeted hateful and violent messages, was banned from Twitter following the companies actions against Trump. People have been calling for her to be banned for years due to her hateful, racist and violent posts, which breached Twitter’s terms of service. Although social media companies have been trying to remain hands-off under the guise of allowing free speech, there has long been discussions over how responsible they are for what is posted on their platform. It appears as though Twitter and Facebook now also feel that they should be responsible for removing hatred and dangerous speech from their platforms.

Difficult words

Culling (v): To reduce the number of something, make less.

Highlight (v/n): To emphasise or bring special attention to something.

Bias (n): Unfairly preferring or feeling prejudice for something.

Floodgate (n): A gate (physical and figurative) which holds a forceful, dangerous object behind it.

Manipulate (v): To alter or change in your favour.

Indignation (n): Anger or annoyance caused by wrong treatment.

Hands-off (adj): Not being directly involved, taking a step back.

Breach (v): To break a contract or rule.

Guise (n): Something used to hide or conceal the true form.

Activities

For listening practise, listen to the recorded article here:

British English: Coming Soon!

American English: Coming Soon!

Match the Synonym!

1. Culling A. Prefer
2. Highlight B. Alter
3. Bias C. Hide
4.  Floodgate D. Reduce
5. Manipulate E. Uninvolved
6. Indignation F. Violate
7. Hands-off G. Anger
8. Breach H. Emphasise
9. Guise I. Dangerous door.

True or False?

1. Social media giants have recently taken a stance against hate speech on their platforms. T / F

2. Twitter has taken action against a tweet from many years ago. T / F

3. Twitter decided to completely delete the tweet so no one could view it. T / F

4. Twitter has never taken action against the US President’s tweets in the past. T / F

5. Some people have demanded President Trump be banned from Twitter. T / F

6. @SuspendThePres is an account which supports President Trump’s tweets. T / F

7. Although Twitter is hiding President Trump’s tweets for hate speech, they have not been fact-checking them. T / F

8. Mark Zuckerberg defended his decision to not take action against hate speech on Facebook. T / F

9. Facebook employees supported Zuckerberg’s decision to not block the president’s posts. T / F

10. Social media companies have long hidden their inaction behind the guise of free speech. T / F

Unscramble the sentence!

1. and / hateful / speech. / Both companies / sometimes violent / with / issues / have / had

2. US / May, / In / President Donald Trump / took / Twitter / action / against

3. taken action / is / the president / This / the / first time / that / against / Twitter / has

4. had / account / Within / tweets / removed / few / days, / a / the

5. taking / not / was / Facebook / criticised / for / action

Listening and Vocabulary

Listen to the article and fill in the words OR practice vocabulary and fill in the words.

British English: Coming Soon!

American English: Coming Soon!

Hateful Exact Violated
Platforms Administration Responsible
Service Monitor Incorrect

Social media giants Twitter and Facebook have been culling the amount of hate speech found on their (1)_____________. Both companies have had issues with hateful and sometimes violent speech being posted on their websites and both have been criticised for being reluctant to take action against it. In May, Twitter took action against US President Donald Trump over a tweet he made about protests in the country. Twitter elected to hide the tweet behind a warning message. The message stated that the tweet had been hidden for “glorifying violence”, which is against the Twitter terms of (2)__________.

The complete warning from Twitter said: “This tweet (3)_____________ the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the tweet to remain accessible.” This is the first time that Twitter has taken action against the president of the US. Previously, people had called for Trump to be banned from Twitter as his tweets often break the Twitter terms of service. To highlight Twitter’s bias in favour of Trump, one user created an account called @SuspendThePres. The account started to tweet Trump’s (4)________ tweets to see what would happen. Within a few days, the account had tweets removed and received a temporary ban. The account is still tweeting, with posts regularly being removed.

The floodgates have opened since Twitter’s first action against Trump. They have now been taking action against tweets from the President more often. This has included hiding a video tweet for being “manipulated media”, fact-checking (5)_____________ posts and hiding posts which are hateful or violent. Facebook was criticised for not taking action against the same posts as Twitter with Mark Zuckerberg going so far as to defend the decision himself. This caused indignation amongst Facebook employees who protested the decision by refusing to work. After mounting pressure, Facebook has now also started to (6)_____________ posts more closely and take action when necessary. Facebook recently removed an advertisement from the Trump campaign which included a Nazi hate symbol as part of the post.

The recent action hasn’t been limited to the US or the Trump (7)_________________. Despite years of taking a hands-off approach, Twitter and Facebook now seem to be tackling far-right speech more frequently. Katie Hopkins, a British person with over 1m followers who has regularly tweeted hateful and violent messages, was banned from Twitter following the companies actions against Trump. People have been calling for her to be banned for years due to her (8)____________, racist and violent posts, which breached Twitter’s terms of service. Although social media companies have been trying to remain hands-off under the guise of allowing free speech, there has long been discussions over how responsible they are for what is posted on their platform. It appears as though Twitter and Facebook now also feel that they should be (9)_______________ for removing hatred and dangerous speech from their platforms.

Conversation Questions

Take turns speaking with a partner or try to answer on your own:

1. Did you find this article interesting? Why or why not?
2. Did you learn anything new from this article? If so, what?
3. What do you think of this story?
4. Do you use Twitter or Facebook?
5. Is it a website’s responsibility to stop hate speech on their own platform?
6. Was it right for Twitter to hide the President’s tweet?
7. Have you ever noticed hate speech online?
8. Do you think the internet should have freedom of speech?
9. Have you ever been blocked from a website?
10. Do politicians in your country often use social media?
11. Do you regularly follow what politicians say online?
12. Should websites be fact-checking posts from famous people?
13. Should presidents receive special treatment for what they post?
14. Does your country have freedom of speech on and offline?
15. Do people fact-check what politicians say in your country?
16. Is fake news a problem in your country?
17. Should racist symbols or messages be allowed on the internet without warning messages?
18. Were Facebook employees right to refuse to work when they didn’t agree with Mark Zuckerberg’s actions?
19. Is it important for you to trust what you read online?
20. Is it important for websites to strictly enforce their terms of service?