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Facebook bans white nationalist content


Facebook is banning white nationalist and separatist content from Facebook and Instagram. The ban comes less than two weeks after a white supremacist used the platform to show images of killings in New Zealand.

Facebook on Wednesday announced it was extending its ban on hate speech to include content related to white nationalism and separatism on both its Facebook and Instagram platforms. It will be enforced as of next week.

Facebook said in a statement "white nationalism and separatism cannot be meaningfully separated from white supremacy and organized hate groups."

While Facebook said it has been working on the change for three months, it comes less than two weeks after shootings at two New Zealand mosques, which killed 50 people. The white supremacist accused was able to broadcast the massacre live on Facebook.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern welcomed Facebook's new policy.  

"Arguably these categories should always fall within the community guidelines of hate speech, but nevertheless it's positive the clarification has now been made in the wake of the attack in Christchurch," she said at a press conference.

The social media giant has already banned white supremacist content but had hesitated to extend that ban to include white nationalism because it linked the term with broader concepts of nationalism and separatism, such as American pride or Basque separatism, which are still allowed.

Read more: The politics of deleting online hate speech

The platforms would no longer allow "praise, support and representation of white nationalism and separatism on Facebook and Instagram."

Redirection to 'Life after Hate'

Facebook held "conversations with members of civil society and academics who are experts in race relations."

"It's clear that these concepts are deeply linked to organized hate groups and have no place on our services," the company said.

Under the new restrictions, 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 move away from the violent far-right.

03:56 mins.
Shift | 25.07.2017

Fighting hate on the Net

'Long overdue'

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 legal advocacy group based in Washington, DC.

Read more: Inciting hatred against Rohingya on social media

"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."

law/jm (AFP, AP)

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