Facebook to ban white nationalist hate speech following Christchurch mosque shootings

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer

Facebook has announced a ban on content related to white nationalism and separatism, following the mosque attack in New Zealand and pressure from civil rights groups.

White supremacy has long been banned by the company, but it had held back from restricting white nationalism and separatism in the same way because of “broader concepts” such as American pride and Basque separatism, Facebook explained.

However, following conversations with civil rights groups and academics, Facebook has decided that it can no longer separate the two from white supremacy and found overlaps in its own review of hate figures and organisations.

Facebook is to ban white nationalism on its platform (PA)

The ban will come into force from next week, covering all forms of praise, support and representation for both ideologies, across Facebook and Instagram.

The social network said in a blog post: ”Going forward, while people will still be able to demonstrate pride in their ethnic heritage, we will not tolerate praise or support for white nationalism and separatism.”

Facebook, which has been criticised for its handling of hate speech, admitted that it needs to act better and faster in response to the problem.

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The firm has largely relied on machine learning and artificial intelligence to detect offending material.

Anyone searching terms associated with white supremacy will now be directed to advice from Life After Hate, a non-profit organisation that aims to help people leave hate groups.

Facebook added: “Unfortunately, there will always be people who try to game our systems to spread hate.

The move came following the Christchurch mosque shootings (Getty)

“Our challenge is to stay ahead by continuing to improve our technologies, evolve our policies and work with experts who can bolster our own efforts.”

American civil rights advocacy organisation Color of Change said that it hoped Facebook’s actions would encourage others such as Twitter, YouTube and Amazon to do more to tackle the growth of white nationalist ideologies, which it says inspired the attacks in Charlottesville, Pittsburgh, and most recently Christchurch.

Facebook has admitted that it needs to act better and faster in response to the problem (Getty)

It tweeted: ”For years, we’ve been pressuring Facebook to address the growing dangers of white nationalism and separatism.

“We’re glad Facebook is treating these two ideologies the same as white supremacy by banning this type of content from their platforms.”

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