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Microsoft has announced that it has created a dedicated web form to report hate speech. While it is easy to dismiss the outrageous language that can be used on the internet, it can be a serious problem. Cyberbullying is very much a real thing, and in this connected age hate speech online is potently powerful.

The company says the form will be located on its hosted consumer services. This document will be joined by a separate form that will be for requests to reconsider and reinstate content. Microsoft points out that it is committed to creating a safe online environment. The company is not changing any policies, but is making reporting hate speech more accessible:

“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.”

Eager to not alienate, Microsoft adds that the internet is a positive creation and a “force for good”. However, there are instances of hate speech that have become commonplace online. Advocating hate and promoting prejudice are things that need to be clamped down on. The company says content promoting hatred on the following subjects is not tolerated:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender
  • National or ethnic origin
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sexual orientation/gender identity

Improving the System

If users of Microsoft service encounter hate speech, they can now easily report it via the form. The company employs an evaluation system where reported content is checked first. With the new form, the company hopes these evaluations will be quicker. Equally, the company is improving the process to apply for content to be reinstated:

“We take seriously our responsibilities in removing hate speech and addressing other violations of our terms of use, but we’re not perfect. 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. We will review submissions via this new form, and if appropriate, reinstate the content.”

Microsoft has been making serious inroads this year to combat hate speech and related content online. The company updated its service agreement in July to block Xbox Live accounts containing terrorist content. In May the company entered a new consolidation of efforts between the European Commission, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to clamp down on hate speech.