Skip to Content

How Much Should Tech Companies Police Hate Speech?

August 15, 2017

In the wake of neo-Nazi demonstrations that turned violent in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend, the question on many people's minds is: what should tech companies do to curtail hate speech and violent racist groups online?

A piece in Wired puts its finger on the issue. The Daily Stormer, a prominent neo-Nazi website, was kicked off GoDaddy on Monday and denied a home by Google. Airbnb, meanwhile, blocked users who looked to be using the Daily Stormer to organize the event. So some firms have clearly made the choice not to put up with racists who espouse violence.

But policing content is tough, and risks running afoul of users' expectations about freedom of expression online. So while Facebook, YouTube, and others have enlisted AI-powered solutions to try to cope with the deluge of extremist content that comes their way, many still shy away from stronger steps that could do a more thorough job of rooting out hate speech. The good news is that the list of technological solutions is growing every day, meaning that violent and hateful users will find spreading their bile online increasingly difficult—even if the issue is unlikely to be completely resolved anytime soon.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

DeepMind’s cofounder: Generative AI is just a phase. What’s next is interactive AI.

“This is a profound moment in the history of technology,” says Mustafa Suleyman.

What to know about this autumn’s covid vaccines

New variants will pose a challenge, but early signs suggest the shots will still boost antibody responses.

Human-plus-AI solutions mitigate security threats

With the right human oversight, emerging technologies like artificial intelligence can help keep business and customer data secure

Next slide, please: A brief history of the corporate presentation

From million-dollar slide shows to Steve Jobs’s introduction of the iPhone, a bit of show business never hurt plain old business.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.