At first glance, the Vindicator’s Facebook promotion did not seem designed to make waves.
The small newspaper, based in Liberty, a Texas city of 75,000 outside of Houston, planned to post the Declaration of Independence on Facebook in 12 daily installments leading up to the Fourth of July — 242 years after the document was adopted at the Second Continental Congress in 1776.
But on the 10th day, the Vindicator’s latest installment was removed by Facebook. The company told the newspaper that the particular passage, which included the phrase “merciless Indian Savages,” went against its “standards on hate speech,” the newspaper wrote.
The story about how Facebook had censored one of the United States’ founding texts on the grounds that it was hate speech has traveled around the world. And it is another glaring example of how the mechanisms that tech companies use to regulate user content — many of which involve algorithms and other automated processes — can result in embarrassing errors. Facebook uses a mix of human work and technological efforts to moderate its content.
Facebook has since apologized to the Vindicator and restored the newspaper’s post.