Councilmember Will Jawando recently reported a racist, threatening comment made by an anonymous user on Instagram in response to a photo Jawando shared of his toddler-aged son in front of a “Black Lives Matter” sign.
After reviewing Jawando’s report, Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, said it did not remove the comment—which spelled out the n-word with periods in between the letters—because it “likely doesn’t go against our Community Guidelines.”
Jawando shared screenshots of Instagram’s response to his report on Twitter. He also shared a screenshot of the racist, threatening comment made on his Instagram post.
“I posted this beautiful picture of my son a few days ago & received this hateful message which I reported and was told doesn’t meet the standards of threatening messages. If this doesn’t meet the standards what does,” Jawando tweeted.
I posted this beautiful picture of my son a few days ago & received this hateful message which I reported and was told doesn't meet the standards of threatening messages. If this doesn't meet the standards what does @instagram @Facebook?#JoyIsAFormOfResistance #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/Pbi2hVgtkV
— Will Jawando (@willjawando) August 27, 2020
MyMCMedia spoke to Jawando about this incident and how it ties into the larger debate over how Facebook’s content moderation practices and the role of big tech companies when it comes to addressing hate speech and propaganda on social media platforms platforms.
“I don’t think we thought through…the protections and the powers that comes with these great tools and I think when used in a hateful way they can be really damaging, not only to people’s psyche and they how they feel about themselves, but can actually cause harm and incite violence,” Jawando said.
Ultimately, after Jawando shared screenshots of Instagram’s response to his report, more people—including Councilmember Nancy Navarro—reported the racist comment and it was eventually deleted, and the anonymous user’s account was deactivated.
Jawando—who doesn’t allow his own children to use social media—said he does find it “troubling” that a racist comment such as the one left on his post wasn’t deleted immediately.
“You think about how many people were on these platforms…how they’re being used, and I think on things like this you have to have technology and/or people or both to catch things like this and don’t allow them to be posted,” Jawando said.