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The Guardians of Democracy

Facebook, Instagram To Ban White Nationalist And White Separatist Content


Facebook, Instagram To Ban White Nationalist And White Separatist Content

Facebook officials announced Wednesday its decision to ban explicit praise, support or representation of white nationalism and white separatism on Facebook and Instagram, including phrases such as “I am a proud white nationalist,” following deadly attacks at two New Zealand mosques and a backlash from black history scholars and civil rights groups.

Brian Fishman, Facebook’s policy director of counterterrorism, told Motherboard this week that after speaking to a range of experts Facebook has concluded “the overlap between white nationalism, [white] separatism, and white supremacy is so extensive we really can’t make a meaningful distinction between them.”

“Our own review of hate figures and organizations – as defined by our Dangerous Individuals & Organizations policy – further revealed the overlap between white nationalism and separatism and white supremacy,” Facebook said in the blog post announcing the change. “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 separatism.”

Users searching for white nationalism and separatism will instead be directed to resources that help people leave hate groups starting next week, the company said.

“If people are exploring this movement, we want to connect them with folks that will be able to provide support offline,” Fishman told Motherboard. “This is the kind of work that we think is part of a comprehensive program to take this sort of movement on.”

Color of Change, an advocacy organization that has been pushing Facebook to improve its record on civil rights for years, in a statement called the policy change a “critical step forward.”

“Color of Change alerted Facebook years ago to the growing dangers of white nationalists on its platform, and today, we are glad to see the company’s leadership take this critical step forward in updating its policy on white nationalism,” Color of Change President Rashad Robinson said in a statement.

“Facebook’s update should move Twitter, YouTube, and Amazon to act urgently to stem the growth of white nationalist ideologies, which find space on platforms to spread the violent ideas and rhetoric that inspired the tragic attacks witnessed in Charlottesville, Pittsburgh, and now Christchurch,” Robinson said, referring to recent shootings and attacks by white supremacists in the U.S. and New Zealand.

Facebook’s announcement has also provoked strong reactions from civil rights groups.

“By attempting to distinguish white supremacy from white nationalism and white separatism, Facebook ignores centuries of history, legal precedent, and expert scholarship that all establish that white nationalism and white separatism are white supremacy,” the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law wrote Facebook in September.


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