Leading social media platforms have announced steps to block ‘praise, support and representation’ of white nationalism and separatism.
A Facebook ban will be handed to anyone flouting new rules. It will also apply on Instagram, owned by Facebook, and comes into force this week.
This development follows Facebook’s revised understanding that white nationalism can no longer be separated from white supremacy. It has also promised to enhance its ability to identify and block material from terrorist groups.
Meanwhile, those searching for offending terms will be signposted to a charity combatting far-right and extreme views.
As the BBC reports, Facebook has “come under pressure” since a man livestreamed an attack on two mosques in New Zealand. Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Arden, has said that social networks are “the publisher, not just the postman”.
Facebook previously allowed some white nationalist content, as it did not consider it racist. It was deemed to be on a par with expressions like ‘American pride’, and important to people’s identity.
Facebook ban white nationalism: Why now?
By means of a blog post titled ‘Standing Against Hate’, Facebook announced the ban on Wednesday March 27.
This type of content has “no place” on Facebook’s services, the post argued. It added: “Our policies have long prohibited hateful treatment of people based on characteristics such as race, ethnicity or religion — and that has always included white supremacy.
“We didn’t originally apply the same rationale to expressions of white nationalism and white separatism because we were thinking about broader concepts of nationalism and separatism — things like American pride and Basque separatism, which are an important part of people’s identity.
“But over the past three months our conversations with members of civil society and academics who are experts in race relations around the world have confirmed that white nationalism and white separatism cannot be meaningfully separated from white supremacy and organized hate groups.”
— Rich Klein (@RichKleinCrisis) March 27, 2019
The post added: “Our own review of hate figures and organizations – as defined by our Dangerous Individuals & Organizations policy – further revealed the overlap between white nationalism and white separatism and white supremacy.
“Going forward, while people will still be able to demonstrate pride in their ethnic heritage, we will not tolerate praise or support for white nationalism and white separatism.”
Searches for terms associated with white supremacy will reportedly be redirected to Life After Hate’s Facebook page. Here people can find support, like education and outreach.
Improvement needed, admit Facebook
The social media giant admitted that it also needed to “get better and faster” at finding and removing hate.
“Over the past few years we have improved our ability to use machine learning and artificial intelligence to find material from terrorist groups,” it added. “Last fall, we started using similar tools to extend our efforts to a range of hate groups globally, including white supremacists.
“We’re making progress, but we know we have a lot more work to do.
NEW: Facebook has officially banned white nationalism and white separatism from its platform, calls the ideologies "inherently hateful" https://t.co/tPhX9AzWj6
— Jason Koebler (@jason_koebler) March 27, 2019
“Our efforts to combat hate don’t stop here. As part of today’s announcement, we’ll also start connecting people who search for terms associated with white supremacy to resources focused on helping people leave behind hate groups.
“People searching for these terms will be directed to Life After Hate, an organization founded by former violent extremists that provides crisis intervention, education, support groups and outreach.”
In summing up the blog post, Facebook concluded that unfortunately there will always be users who attempt to “game our systems” to spread hate.
Its challenge now, it says, is to “stay ahead”. Facebook will attempt to do this by evolving policies, working with experts and improving technologies.
“We are deeply committed and will share updates as this process moves forward,” added the post.
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