The Declaration of Independence contains hate speech, according to Facebook’s algorithms.
Though the social media site eventually allowed the famed historical document to be shared in full, Texas’ Liberty County Vindicator ran into trouble while posting fragments of the text on its Facebook page ahead of Independence Day.
Facebook’s algorithms specifically flagged three words in a line accusing the British monarchy of endeavoring “to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages,” claiming the line violated the site’s standards on hate speech, per the BBC. “Unfortunately, [Thomas] Jefferson, like most British colonists of his day, did not hold an entirely friendly view of Native Americans,” the Vindicator‘s managing editor, Casey Stinnett, commented after the text was removed.
Stinnett wasn’t all that upset, though. “The newspaper has little grounds for complaint other than the silliness of it,” he wrote.
Still, Facebook later restored the content and apologized. “We made a mistake and removed something you posted on Facebook that didn’t go against our community standards,” the company told the paper.
It’s an admission surely welcomed by Christian Britschgi at Reason, who accused Facebook of “whitewashing America’s founding.” While “clearly racist,” the flagged line of text “serves as another example of the American Revolution’s mixed legacy; one that won crucial liberties for a certain segment of the population, while continuing to deny those same liberties to Native Americans and African slaves,” he writes.
(A copy of the Declaration was reportedly hidden behind wallpaper.)
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