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Facebook announces a sitewide ban on white nationalism, white separatism from its platform


'Ban on praise, support and representation of white nationalism'

Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Facebook announced Wednesday that it plans to ban all white nationalism and white separatist-related posts from its platform.

What are the details?

In a statement published on its platform, Facebook announced that it plans to ban all statements — including support of such statements — of white nationalism and white separatism.

A portion of the company's extensive statement read, "members of civil society and academics who are experts in race relations" have concluded that "white nationalism and separatism cannot be meaningfully separated from white supremacy and organized hate groups."

Some example verbiage includes phrases like, "I am a proud white nationalist" and "Immigration is tearing this country apart; white separatism is the only answer."

When any users attempt to post anything that is supportive or indicative of white supremacy, they will be redirected to a nonprofit organization that educates people on leaving hate groups.

The company's full statement said:

Today we're announcing a ban on praise, support and representation of white nationalism and 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 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 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 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 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.

What else?

In 2018, Motherboard reported that Facebook banned "white supremacy" from its platforms, but permitted "white nationalism" and "white separatism."

Backlash ensued from civil rights groups, however, that argued that "white nationalism" and "white separatism" are the same concept as "white supremacy."

The end result was Facebook banning all three types of speech.

Brian Fishman, policy director of counterterrorism at Facebook, told Motherboard in an interview published Wednesday that this is, at least, part of the reason the company decided to ban such speech from its platforms.

"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," Fishman said during a phone call with the outlet. "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."

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