In tonight’s newsletter, we’re learning that social media giant Facebook says it deletes about 288,000 posts it considers hate speech every month, according to the Washington Post. Some back-of-the-napkin math tells us that means there’s a monthly hate speech post for every 7,000 active Facebook users.
(For reference, it’s a decent guess that between 600,000 and 700,000 Mainers are now on Facebook, based on some admittedly outdated numbers I was able to dig up.)
You’d think the bad news here is that there are so many people around the world spitting out hate speech, but actually, what seems to be happening is that people who are the targets of hate speech are being disproportionately punished by the social media site, because they’re sharing their experiences and trying to have a dialogue about intolerance.
The mysterious Facebook algorithm that decides what hate speech is and what it isn’t picks up on epithets in the posts of victims and blocks them, the Post reported.
(Considering the language in the posts we all see every day that aren’t blocked, I have to admit I was surprised to learn that Facebook was regulating speech at all.)
The site is working on solutions — hiring thousands more online moderators and updating its aforementioned algorithm — but for now, Facebook is just as unsafe a place for victims of hate speech as the non-digital world.
Let’s all be kind to each other.
What we’re talking about
Forty percent of Portland school students identify as people of color, but 97 percent of the teachers are white. In this report by Maine Public’s Robbie Feinberg, we learn that the school system is supporting efforts to convince more diverse graduates to consider going into teaching as an effort to balance that equation.
There are two more hotels being planned for the city’s waterfront, the Portland Press Herald is reporting today. Furniture company West Elm announced plans for a 150-room boutique hotel as part of the proposed redevelopment of the historic Portland Co. complex on the eastern waterfront, while the developers behind a housing proposal at the former Rufus Deering Lumber yard site on Commercial Street are asking to change their plans to include 128 hotel rooms. Previously, the lumber yard redevelopment just included condominiums and market rate apartments.
After last night’s four-hour slugfest over the long standing conflict between Mayor Ethan Strimling and City Manager Jon Jennings, the two men have agreed to sit down and start talking again. The mayor said that Jennings reached out to him today to schedule the first of what are to be regular Monday meetings. They’ll sit down on Aug. 14 in the company the deputy city manager, Strimling said. The mayor and manager haven’t met one-one-one in months, and Strimling said their tense relationship has been “an unfortunate distraction.” That the two men should start meeting again was the only clear take-away from last night’s meeting, which otherwise failed to provide a clear path to ending the city hall conflict.
The Cat high-speed ferry to Nova Scotia was temporarily sidelined because of technical issues. Runs between Portland and the Canadian town of Yarmouth were cancelled Monday and today, and passengers are being told by the ferry operator to call and rebook their trips.
It’s not perfectly scientific, of course, but about 60 percent of the people who took a BDN online poll said they think U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, should run for governor next year. Current Republican Gov. Paul LePage continued his vocal criticism of Collins this morning by blasting her and fellow Sen. Angus King for their votes against GOP plans to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
Tweet of the day
The Big Idea
Computer-animated dire wolves are favorites of “Game of Thrones” fans, but now breeders are trying to bring them back in the real world as well. In another piece in the Washington Post, we learn that a woman in Oregon has been spending three decades using selective breeding to fine-tune a canine which bears an uncanny resemblance to the now-extinct dire wolf, just without the ill and unpredictable temperament of actual wolves.