Facebook just topped 2 billion monthly users — a population equivalent to roughly 51 times that of California.
Meanwhile, Facebook also says it has deleted about 66,000 posts a week in the last two months as the social media giant cracks down on what it deems to be hate speech.
It took the social network less than five years to go from 1 billion monthly users to 2 billion.
“As of this morning, the Facebook community is now officially 2 billion people! We’re making progress connecting the world, and now let’s bring the world closer together,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post Tuesday.
But it hasn’t been all smooth sailing for Facebook. The social media giant has recently faced criticism for its handling of fake news, disturbing live-streamed videos, and for creating partisan echo chambers.
Last week, Facebook changed its mission to focus on building communities (largely through Facebook groups) rather than only connecting individuals to each other.
Zuckerberg said connecting people online isn’t enough.
“Now we realize that we need to do more too,” Zuckerberg told CNN Tech last week. “It’s important to give people a voice, to get a diversity of opinions out there, but on top of that, you also need to do this work of building common ground so that way we can all move forward together.”
This is the first time Facebook has changed its mission.
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On Monday, Facebook and other tech giants formed the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism to fight extremism on their platforms.
Facebook said Tuesday that it deleted about 66,000 posts a week in the last two months as the social media giant cracks down on what it deems to be hate speech.
The company said in a blog post that deleting posts can “feel like censorship,” but that it is working on explaining its process better and improving its enforcement of hate speech.
Facebook defines hate speech as attacks on people based on their race, sexual orientation and other “protected characteristics.” The Menlo Park, California, company said it mostly relies on its 2 billion users to report any hateful posts they see. Workers then review the posts and decide whether to delete it.
Facebook Inc. said it plans to hire an additional 3,000 people in the next year to review posts. That’s on top of the 4,500 people it currently has reviewing posts.
It has made mistakes, the company said. Last year it deleted the post of a black activist, who had posted hate mail he received that included slurs. Facebook said it restored the post and apologized.
“We know that these kinds of mistakes are deeply upsetting for the people involved and cut against the grain of everything we are trying to achieve at Facebook,” said Facebook Vice President Richard Allan, in the blog post.
Almost all tech companies with a social media side are wrestling to find the balance between allowing for free speech, and tamping down on extremism.
Last week, Google said it was cracking down on terrorist propaganda and other extremist videos on its YouTube site amid intensifying criticism about the internet’s role in mass violence. It also said it was hiring more people to monitor hate and extremism online, and to prevent its dissemination through YouTube.