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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Mysterious Brazilian honey barrel appears at Saanich intersection

Barrel spotted on West Saanich Road part of intersection construction project, district says

Sidney joins federal government in Reay Creek improvements

Coun. Chad Rintoul says contract to renovate Reay Creek dam makes him ‘nervous’

Lost dog reunited with family three months after going missing along Juan de Fuca trail

‘The poor thing was skin and bones,’ says one of the Sooke rescuers

Improvements flowing to Sooke salmon hatchery

Sooke River Jack Brooks Hatchery hooks major funding

STANDING TALL: For some, B.C.’s forest industry is the best office in the world

A look at the forest sector in B.C. – and those hoping for the best – amid mill curtailments

Bad behaviour at B.C. restaurants ignites campaign calling for respect

“If you can’t follow the rules, then stay home,” says BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association

Addition pending to Cape Scott Provincial Park?

BC Parks will wait before announcing plans for nearly $1 million old growth land purchase

Over half of Americans oppose Trump tariff on Canadian aluminum: survey

The survey was conducted Aug. 7 to 9 among 1,513 Canadians and 1,003 Americans

Oh baby, what a birthday gift: $2.8M raised to help B.C. boy with rare disease

‘We are very thankful to everybody,’ Aryan Deol’s father says

‘Huckleberry’ the bear killed after B.C. residents admit to leaving garbage out for videos

North Shore Black Bear Society said it was local residents who created a ‘death sentence’ for bear

Police investigating after insults, expletives yelled at federal minister’s staff

A 90-second video circulating on social media appears to have been shot by the person who was yelling

Central Vancouver Island’s Green Mountain fire under full control

Fire fighters still monitoring site between Cowichan Lake and Nanaimo River

5 B.C. First Nations call out Canada for ‘discriminatory’ food fish practices

West Coast nations say government ignoring court-won right to chinook and coho

Most Read