Following increasing complaints regarding Facebook’s complicity in the rise of white supremacy movements on its platform, the social media site has finally (FINALLY) announced a significant policy change that will see the platform broaden its once-narrow definition of hate speech as a means of ceasing further proliferation of it on its platform.
The lax nature of Facebook’s previous content policy came under criticism for its unwarranted distinction between the ideas of “white supremacy,” “white nationalism,” and “white separatism.” This distinction led to Facebook only explicitly banning content deemed “white supremacy” in nature from the platform, while giving activity falling under the other two not-dissimilar umbrellas a free pass. A Newsroom post today announced that this is changing, however, stating that Facebook will no longer “tolerate praise or support for white nationalism and separatism.” Effective next week, hateful content once shortsightedly shrugged off by Facebook as white nationalism or separatism in its nature will now be treated with the same seriousness as explicit white supremacy.
In a statement to Motherboard, Facebook’s Policy Director of Counterterrorism, Brian Fishman, states that the social media site “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.”
In addition to expanding their definition of what constitutes racially-charged hateful content, the policy update will also see Facebook taking the initiative of redirecting users who seek out such materials on their platform toward Life After Hate, an organization “founded by former extremists […] committed to helping people leave the violent far-right.”
In a statement to TechCrunch, Rashad Robinson, President of civil rights advocacy nonprofit Color of Change, shared that his group “alerted Facebook years ago to the growing dangers of white nationalists on its platform, and today, we are glad to see the company’s leadership take this critical step forward in updating its policy on white nationalism.”
Rashad further hopes that “Facebook’s update should move Twitter, YouTube, and Amazon to act urgently to stem the growth of white nationalist ideologies, which find space on platforms to spread the violent ideas and rhetoric that inspired the tragic attacks witnessed in Charlottesville, Pittsburgh, and now Christchurch.”