Facebook extends ban on hate speech to ‘white nationalists’

Facebook received criticism after suspect in New Zealand mosque shootings broadcast the massacre

In this March 13, 2019, file photo Facebook, Messenger and Instagram apps are are displayed on an iPhone in New York. Facebook said Wednesday, March 27, that it is broadening its definition of hate speech to apply to “white nationalists” and “white separatists.” The company previously allowed posts from those groups even though it has long banned “white supremacists.” (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)

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 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).

READ MORE: Facebook says no one flagged NZ mosque shooting livestream

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 organized 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, D.C.-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.”

Barbara Ortutay, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Driver charged in Central Saanich pedestrian’s death appears in court

Victim Kim Ward, 51, died on scene at the August 2018 crash

Second puppy killed by poisonous mushrooms in Victoria

Springer spaniel puppy died after consuming mushrooms in Fairfield neighbourhood

Western Speedway racing legend ‘The Flying Plumber’ turns 98

Dave Cooper recalls car crashes, his first win, and more

Nuisance tree will remain on perimeter of Fireman’s Park

Council re-affirm pledge to protecting healthy tree canopy

Central Saanich hosts NEAT program to help seniors connect with each other

Health promotion program aims to reduce social isolation among seniors

WATCH: Greater Victoria’s top stories of the day

A round-up of the day’s top stories

POLL: Do you think the day of the federal election should be a statutory holiday?

Increasing voter turnout has long been a goal of officials across the… Continue reading

Fatal overdoses down by 33% in B.C., but carfentanil deaths continue to spike

Carfentanil, an illicit drug more powerful than fentanyl, causing more deaths than ever

Two RCMP vehicles vandalized in Duncan over long weekend

Local Mounties asking for help in finding culprits

A year after pot legalization in Canada, it’s a slow roll

It’s one year into Canada’s experiment in legal marijuana, and hundreds of legal pot shops have opened

ELECTION 2019: Climate strikes push environment to top of mind for federal leaders

Black Press Media presents a three-part series on three big election issues

Tickets available for Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame dinner and induction

Ryan Cochrane, Mike Piechnick and Rob Short among the inductees

Most Read