Facebook Bans All 'Praise, Support and Representation of White Nationalism and Separatism'

Chris Menahan
Mar. 28, 2019

Facebook on Wednesday announced they'll be banning all "praise, support and representation of white nationalism and white separatism" on Facebook and Instagram but will still allow other race-based nationalist and separatist movements.

Facebook had said previously they were against banning white nationalism and white separatism because they felt that under the same rules they'd also have to ban Zionism and black separatism.

Facebook's statement reads:
Today we’re announcing a ban on praise, support and representation of white nationalism and white separatism on Facebook and Instagram, which we’ll start enforcing next week. It’s clear that these concepts are deeply linked to organized hate groups and have no place on our services.

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. 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.

We also need to get better and faster at finding and removing hate from our platforms. Over the past few years we have improved our ability to use machine learning and artificial intelligence to find material from terrorist groups. 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.

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.

Unfortunately, there will always be people who try to game our systems to spread hate. Our challenge is to stay ahead by continuing to improve our technologies, evolve our policies and work with experts who can bolster our own efforts. We are deeply committed and will share updates as this process moves forward.
VICE reported Wednesday that the new policy "doesn’t change the company's existing policies on separatist and nationalist movements more generally; content relating to Black separatist movements and the Basque separatist movement, for example, will still be allowed."

Independent journalist Nick Monroe noted this is the first time he's seen a "race-based social media policy."

Facebook's move just so happens to follow the government of Australia threatening to jail social media execs for failing to "quickly remove extremist material from their platforms."

As AFP reported on Tuesday:
Australia warned social media giants Tuesday (March 26) that executives could be jailed if they fail to quickly remove extremist material from their platforms.

[Attorney-General Christian Porter] said the government was "absolutely considering" the possibility of jail time for executives as it mulled new laws.

He warned Australian laws had "extra-territorial reach" regardless of where a company is based.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government in Canada similarly threatened to implement new regulations to force social media companies to ban "hateful" and "extremist" content on their platforms.

Trudeau celebrated news of the ban Wednesday night on Twitter:

No doubt empowering social media oligarchs with the ability to ban entire ideologies from engaging in public discourse online will work out just fine and have zero unintended consequences!

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