Facebook extends ban on hate speech to ‘white nationalists’

Published March 28, 2019
Facebook has previously allowed such material on its platform, even though it was long banned white supremacists. ─ Reuters/File
Facebook has previously allowed such material on its platform, even though it was long banned white supremacists. ─ Reuters/File

SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook is extending its ban on hate speech to prohibit the promotion and support of white nationalism and white separatism.

The company previously allowed such material even though it has long banned white supremacists. The social network said on Wednesday that it didn’t apply the ban previously to expressions of white nationalism because it linked such expressions with broader concepts of nationalism and separatism such as American pride or Basque separatism (which are still allowed).

But civil rights groups and academics called this view “misguided” and have long pressured the company to change its stance. Facebook said it concluded after months of “conversations” with them that white nationalism and separatism cannot be meaningfully separated from white supremacy and organised hate groups.

Critics have “raised these issues to the highest levels at Facebook [and held] a number of working meetings with their staff as we’ve tried to get them to the right place,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a Washington-based legal advocacy group.

“This is long overdue as the country continues to deal with the grip of hate and the increase in violent white supremacy,” she said. “We need the tech sector to do its part to combat these efforts.”

Though Facebook said it has been working on the change for three months, it comes less than two weeks after Facebook received widespread criticism after the suspect in shootings at two New Zealand mosques that killed 49 people was able to broadcast the massacre on live video on Facebook.

As part of the change, people who search for terms associated with white supremacy will be directed to a group called Life After Hate, which was founded by former extremists who want to help people leave the violent far-right.

Clarke called the idea that white supremacism is different than white nationalism or white separatism a misguided “distinction without a difference”. She said the New Zealand attack was a “powerful reminder about why we need the tech sector to do more to stamp out the conduct and activity of violent white supremacists”.

Published in Dawn, March 28th, 2019

Opinion

Karachi diary

Karachi diary

If govts could focus a bit more on infrastructure and transportation, the heart of Pakistan would be able to pump a lot more life and activity.

Editorial

Starting over
Updated 01 Mar, 2024

Starting over

Both govt and opposition must resolve that their decisions will prioritise the public good over anything else.
Missing the point
01 Mar, 2024

Missing the point

IN a change of heart, the caretaker prime minister attended the hearing of the Baloch missing persons’ case in the...
Fleecing power consumers
01 Mar, 2024

Fleecing power consumers

THE so-called independent inquiry committee, formed by the power ministry to probe charges of excessive billing by...
Unchanged rating
Updated 29 Feb, 2024

Unchanged rating

Unchanged Moody's rating underscores that fears of default will continue unless a new, larger loan agreement is reached with the IMF.
Silenced voices
29 Feb, 2024

Silenced voices

THE state suddenly seems to be acting more loyal than the king as far as respect for the judiciary is concerned. The...
Gwadar deluge
29 Feb, 2024

Gwadar deluge

GWADAR has been battered with severe rains — the worst since 2010 — with both the town and Ormara to its east ...