How Is Facebook Going to Combat Hate Speech, White Supremacy and White Nationalism?

source: Ina Grace

Two weeks after the shooting attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, that left 50 worshippers dead Facebook and Instagram announced a new shift in their policy to ban all "praise, support and representation of white nationalism and separatism."

In an official statement, Facebook declared it had prohibited hateful treatment of people based on their race, gender, and religion a long time ago. However,  it admitted that it had not applied the same rationale to white nationalism and separatism. It embraced their broader concepts which are a vital part of human's identity - like the Basque separatism or the American pride.

After three months of extensive debates with civil rights groups and academics with expertise in race relations, Facebook concluded that it is difficult to separate the white nationalism and separatism from white supremacy and organized hate groups.

As of the next week, Facebook will ban any content that features explicit praise, support, or representation of white nationalism and separatism. For   instance, statements such as ''I am proud to be a white nationalist'' or  ''Immigration is tearing our country apart; white separatism is the solution.'' 

However, the social media platform admitted it would be a challenge at the beginning to detect and ban implicit and coded white nationalism and separatism.

Facebook users who are searching for specific terms related to white supremacy and nationalism, for example ''Heil Hitler'' would now be redirected to an organization called Life After Hate. Founded by former extremists, it provides training, education, and help to violent extremists.

Supporters of the new policy hope it would also inspire the other social platforms such as Twitter, YouTube, and Amazon to follow and make similar changes.

Some advocacy groups such as Color of Change, an American racial justice organization, commented that Facebook made ''a critical step forward.'' In a similar fashion Muslim Advocates, the American civil rights association said it was a ''welcome development.''

Madihha Ahussain, Muslim Advocates’ special counsel for anti-Muslim bigotry also appreciated the new policy highlighting that there should be more scrutiny as to Facebook implements the new ban. The main concern of Ahussain was that many extreme white nationalists keep using social media platforms to share their views and recruit new members.

Going further, Ahussain also inquired whether the new policy would also ban the anti-black, anti-LGBT, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, and anti-Jewish rhetoric as in his view, they all were underlying foundations of white nationalism.

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree that the new policy would decrease the hate speech on social media?