Jeffrey Rosen of the New Republic sheds light on the “Deciders,” as he calls them — the tech leaders of Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc. — who are crafting company policies for hate speech and censorship on the Internet.
The article profiles Dave Willner ’06, who leads Facebook’s six-person content policy team at the company’s Menlo Park headquarters. Hundreds more staff, stationed in Austin, Denver and India, review the more than two million complaints that come in weekly about offensive material — nudity, porn, violence and hate speech.
“At the time Willner joined Facebook’s content policy team, the company had no rules on the books for what speech violated its terms of service. So Willner decided to write them himself. He chose as his model university anti-harassment codes, since he himself had just graduated from college,” Rosen writes. Eventually, this policy evolved to Facebook’s current free-speech decision to ban attacks on groups, but not on institutions — empowering “the company to resist growing calls for the wholesale deletion of speech that foreign governments and their citizens consider blasphemous.”