After years of the most vicious and violent online campaign in American history, a network that has been a cornerstone of American life since the early 2000s has finally found a way — a network in which the country has finally come to terms with what happened in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017.
For all the hate and violence unleashed on those who were gathered to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, the most devastating aspect of the attack was the network’s failure to stop it.
“What happened in that city last year was a wake-up call for us to do better,” said David Zaslav, who was the president and CEO of the media and entertainment company News Corp. and is now CEO of Hulu.
“We have to start to acknowledge that our platforms are not the only venues for hate.”
At a moment of heightened concern about online hate, Zasav and others have been looking at ways to make their networks more accountable to their communities and to prevent the kind of harassment and violence that occurred in Charlottesville.
In an effort to address this, News Corp., which has more than 400 million users, has put new features on its platforms to make it easier to flag hateful content.
These features include automatic reports to users when they share a link to a post that includes profanity, racism or bigotry.
And, the company recently rolled out a system to help users flag and remove hate speech from their accounts.
“Our platforms are our first line of defense,” Zaslav said.
“And what happened last year has changed the landscape for us.”
News Corp.’s new measures, which take into account the volume of hate speech, will be rolled out to users in the coming weeks, and it has already begun piloting new ways to flag hate speech.
In addition, News and Fox News Channel, two networks that were the subject of the recent online uproar, will soon have a system that will automatically flag hate posts.
But the biggest change will be in how News Corp treats content it receives from users who are flagged for harassment or abuse.
“It’s very clear we have a problem,” Zuslav said.