Facebook is known to be a social media platform that has many hateful and toxic trolls wreaking havoc and seeking to cause hurt and disruption by spreading negativity. However, in a recent statement, Facebook has finally taken a stance on atleast some level by stating that it would take strict and stringent action against those who attacked or trolled the music artist Lizzo. Apparently, Facebook draws the line at bullying Lizzo.
A strong message from Facebook
It is clear that the amount of hate and fat-shaming comments directed at Lizzo have finally raised some brows with the management team at Facebook. Facebook issued a strong message stating that it was drawing the line at bullying Lizzo. It made it clear that those who dare to cyberbully or troll Lizzo had two options. Either knock it off, or they will duly be kicked off the platform. Following the statement, a large number of hateful comments that were left on the star’s social media handles were deleted by Facebook. They have put in place an inspection team to check for negative and toxic comments, and those who repeatedly indulge in spreading this vitriolic narrative and trend would be suspended from the social media platform.
Toxic nature of the Internet
It is disheartening to see people direct fatphobic and racist abuse at an artist like Lizzo, who has dedicated her music towards spreading positivity, happiness, joy amongst listeners around the globe. Sadly, that is the nature of social media and is probably the reason for there being an unspoken rule amongst celebrities and people who live in the spotlight to never read the comments. One of Lizzo’s peers, Cardi B, a rapper and singer, rushed to her defense. She stated that one could never win by engaging with the trolls. She explained it by saying that if one was to stand up for themselves, they are deemed to be sensitive, and those who don’t fight back are attacked until they break down and cry. Other famous personalities had admonished the haters as well. It is disappointing that it is true that the monster of social media will always bring light to your insecurities, and it is something everyone has to deal with. However, it is refreshing to see influential and powerful people like Cardi B and Facebook voice their support for Lizzo.
Uncharacteristic of Facebook
While the message of standing up for Lizzo is an unusually heartwarming stance taken by Facebook, in the past, Facebook has stood by a different set of ideals. Facebook had rushed to the defense of Lizo, a black female artist. However, a few months back, the platform was catching flack for having a major bias issue on their platform on the topic of racist hate speech.
Facebook had worked towards building a platform devoid of the division of race. However, their race-blind algorithm that was meant to prevent racist slurs from being used on the platform had a miscalculated effect of also over-censoring messages that criticised white people. This resulted in many posts that talked about racism getting flagged as “hate speech against a race.” This became problematic when the platform took no action against the posts that did contain racist slurs.
Other reforms from Facebook
Facebook has finally responded to the cries of the many people who have spoken against the platform, consistently flagging the wrong posts. In late 2020, the social media giant announced that the algorithm had been revamped. The new algorithm will be trained in such a manner that only the most provocative and worst posts that seek to spread hatred against a particular community would be flagged as “hate speech”. The new system will also search posts in the priority of the harm they cause. This, if implemented properly, should provide much-deserved security to marginalised communities like black people, Muslims, Jews, and the LGBTQ+ community against such insults.
It is without a doubt an admirable decision made by Facebook to buckle down on hate directed at Lizzo. It is also the right decision. It is cruel to target people for their appearances and unfairly use racial stereotypes to discredit them. It does not matter whether a person is famous or not; cyberbullying should never be acceptable. This is an issue that cannot be resolved overnight, but we can take heart from the fact that Facebook is taking responsibility at least at some level to curb this tide of vitriolic comments.