Facebook have banned white nationalism and white separatism on its platform after a civil rights backlash.
The social media platform previously only banned white supremacy on its site, despite the three ideologies extensively overlapping in many of their beliefs.
However, after a massive backlash from civil rights groups and historians who said there is no difference between the three, Facebook announced on Tuesday (March 26) they would be changing their policy.
With Facebook governing the speech of more than 2 billion users worldwide, the social media network has a huge responsibility to stop the spread of hate speech where it can. And yet until now, it still explicitly allowed white nationalism and white separatism.
Now though, Motherboard has learned that at Facebook’s Content Standards Forum on Tuesday, the decision was made to ban all three.
Brian Fishman, policy director of counter-terrorism at Facebook, told Motherboard:
We’ve had conversations with more than 20 members of civil society, academics, in some cases these were civil rights organizations, experts in race relations from around the world.
We decided that the overlap between white nationalism, [white] separatism, and white supremacy is so extensive we really can’t make a meaningful distinction between them.
And that’s because the language and the rhetoric that is used and the ideology that it represents overlaps to a degree that it is not a meaningful distinction.
In particular, content that includes explicit praise, support, or representation of white nationalism or separatism will now be banned.
For example, phrases such as, ‘I am a proud white nationalist’ and ‘Immigration is tearing this country apart; white separatism is the only answer’ will be banned, according to Facebook.
Despite this, Facebook have said implicit and coded white nationalism and separatism will not be banned immediately – partly because they say it’s harder to detect and remove.
Users who do attempt to search for or post about white nationalism, white separatism, or white supremacist content will be directed to the non-profit organisation, Life After Hate, which is dedicated to getting people to leave hate groups.
If people are exploring this movement, we want to connect them with folks that will be able to provide support offline. This is the kind of work that we think is part of a comprehensive program to take this sort of movement on.
The change of policy, as well as applying to Facebook, will also be applied to Instagram.
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