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.

Deep Dive


Uber Autonomous Vehicles parked in a lot
Uber Autonomous Vehicles parked in a lot

It will soon be easy for self-driving cars to hide in plain sight. We shouldn’t let them.

If they ever hit our roads for real, other drivers need to know exactly what they are.

stock art of market data
stock art of market data

Maximize business value with data-driven strategies

Every organization is now collecting data, but few are truly data driven. Here are five ways data can transform your business.

Cryptocurrency fuels new business opportunities

As adoption of digital assets accelerates, companies are investing in innovative products and services.

Mifiprex pill
Mifiprex pill

Where to get abortion pills and how to use them

New US restrictions could turn abortion into do-it-yourself medicine, but there might be legal risks.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration 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.