October 21, 2010 | by Staff reports
National news in brief: Oct. 22

Facebook to monitor hate speech on suicide memorials

WASHINGTON — Facebook officials have promised to monitor a page that was created to remember the gay teens who committed suicide in recent weeks after it was flooded with anti-gay language and images, the Hill and other media outlets have reported.

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) alerted Facebook to the problem and officials with the social networking site agreed to monitor the memorial, look for violations of its terms of service and create new ways to respond quickly to hateful comments.

“The goal of these policies is to strike a very delicate balance between giving people the freedom to express their opinions and viewpoints — even those that may be controversial to some — and maintaining a safe and trusted environment,” Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes told the Hill.

Hateful content is prohibited on Facebook and the site has a team dedicated to removing violating material. Facebook officials respond to reports such as those from GLAAD and have an automated system that flags questionable content. This allows them to review and remove some material before it’s reported.

Fight to overturn Proposition 8 continues

LOS ANGELES — The highly publicized recent suicides of gay teens who were bullied at school and the brutal attack on two Bronx teenagers perceived as gay were the result of the discrimination perpetuated by measures like California’s Proposition 8, opponents of the measure told an appeals court this week, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“Incidents such as these are all too familiar to our society,” wrote Theodore B. Olson, one of the lawyers challenging the 2008 anti-gay marriage initiative. “And it is too plain for argument that discrimination written into our constitutional charters inexorably leads to shame, humiliation, ostracism, fear, and hostility. The consequences are all too often very, very tragic.”

Olson’s arguments to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, filed Monday, stressed that striking down Proposition 8 would not require the court to create a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, the Times reported. The 9th Circuit is considering an appeal of a district court ruling in August that found Proposition 8 unconstitutional.

Olson wrote: “But whatever the reason that voters supported Proposition 8, the fact remains that it embodies an irrational and discriminatory classification that denies gay men and lesbians the fundamental right to marry enjoyed by all other citizens.”

During a news conference Tuesday, another lawyer said he was not worried that a future California attorney general might try to defend Proposition 8, according to the Times report. But the lawyer, Theodore Boutrous, also acknowledged that Atty. Gen. HYPERLINK “http://www.latimes.com/topic/politics/jerry-brown-PEPLT007547.topic”Jerry Brown’s concession to the court that the measure was unconstitutional was “powerful” and “helped us enormously.”

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