Microsoft announces new tools to report hate speech


New Delhi: In an effort to curb hate speech and ensure safe online communities, Microsoft has announced a new dedicated web form for reporting hate speech on its hosted consumer services and a separate online form for petitions to reconsider and reinstate content.

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"We will continue our notice-and-takedown approach for removing prohibited content on hosted consumer services, and the new form aims to improve the quality and speed of our reviews," Jacqueline Beauchere, Chief Online Safety Officer at Microsoft, said in a blog post. "When hate speech is reported to us, we will evaluate each complaint, consider context and other factors, and determine appropriate action with respect to the content and the user's account," Jacqueline said yesterday.

"Microsoft is committed to creating safe online communities where our customers can learn, play, grow and interact without the threat of violence or hatred. That's why for many years we've sought to protect our customers by prohibiting hate speech and removing such content from our hosted consumer services," she said.

"While neither our principles nor our policies are changing, we are refining some of our processes to make it easier for customers to report hate speech," she said, adding that the company is also simplifying requests to reinstate content that customers feel was removed in error.

Microsoft produces a wide range of software for desktops and servers, and is active in areas including Internet search (with Bing), the video game industry (with the Xbox, Xbox 360 and Xbox One consoles), the digital services market (through MSN) and other services including Outlook, Skype and Office 365. According to Jacqueline, Microsoft strive to provide services that are trustworthy, inclusive and used responsibly.

"We take seriously our responsibilities in removing hate speech and addressing other violations of our terms of use, but we're not perfect," she wrote. "We already provide customers, within various consumer products and services, the means to ask us to review a content removal decision they feel was made in error. 

And, just as we're making it simpler for users to report hate speech, we're also adding a new multi-service reconsideration form to request reinstatement of content that customers feel was disabled in error," she said, adding that the company will review submissions via this new form, and if appropriate, reinstate the content.

The Chief Online Safety Office also said that the company work with governments, online safety advocates and other technology companies to ensure there is no place on its hosted consumer services for conduct that incites violence and hate.

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