Facebook blocks white nationalist and separatist content

The social media giant has decided that white nationalist content can no longer be "meaningfully separated" from white supremacy and will begin to redirect users searching offending terms to a nonprofit combating far-right extremism

28Mar

From next week, Facebook has vowed to ban "praise, support and representation of white nationalism and separatism" on Facebook and Instagram pages. Instead, users searching for offending terms will find themselves directed to a non-profit founded by former extremists, Life After Hate, which combats far-right extremism.

Facebook also pledged to improve its methods of identifying and blocking material terrorist groups are sharing on the site.

While the social media giant banned white supremacy from its platform last year, white nationalist content, such as users calling for the creation of white ethno-states, was slipping through its filters because the company did not previously deem it explicitly racist.

Facebook had previously stated that it considered white nationalism a form of expression on a par with "things like American pride and Basque separatism, which are an important part of people's identity". However, in a blog post titled Standing Against Hate that was posted on March 27, the company revealed it has rethought its decision and decided that white nationalism could no longer be "meaningfully separated" from white supremacy and hate groups.

"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," Brian Fishman, policy director of counterterrorism at Facebook, told Motherboard.

"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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