Facebook bans white nationalism, separatism

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Facebook, the world's biggest social networking platform, has announced a ban on praise, support and representation of white nationalism and white separatism on its platform and Instagram.

The move comes after the suspect in the terror attack at two New Zealand mosques streamed the massacre live on Facebook. A manifesto allegedly written by the suspect reveals white nationalist views.

Facebook later said it removed 1.5 million videos globally in the first 24 hours after the attack.

Following the attack, New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern said Facebook had questions to answer over the live streaming of shootings at two mosques that killed 50 people.

In a statement issued yesterday, Facebook says: "Today we're announcing a ban on praise, support and representation of white nationalism and white separatism on Facebook and Instagram, which we'll start enforcing next week. It's clear that these concepts are deeply linked to organised hate groups and have no place on our services."

The social media company says its policies have long prohibited hateful treatment of people based on characteristics such as race, ethnicity or religion - and that has always included white supremacy.

"We didn't originally apply the same rationale to expressions of white nationalism and white separatism because we were thinking about broader concepts of nationalism and separatism; things like American pride and Basque separatism, which are an important part of people's identity.

"But over the past three months, our conversations with members of civil society and academics who are experts in race relations around the world have confirmed that white nationalism and white separatism cannot be meaningfully separated from white supremacy and organised hate groups."

Facebook points out that its review of hate figures and organisations - as defined by the social network's Dangerous Individuals & Organisations policy - further revealed the overlap between white nationalism and white separatism and white supremacy.

Going forward, it adds, while people will still be able to demonstrate pride in their ethnic heritage, Facebook will not tolerate praise or support for white nationalism and white separatism.

"We also need to get better and faster at finding and removing hate from our platforms," says Facebook.

"Over the past few years, we have improved our ability to use machine learning and artificial intelligence to find material from terrorist groups. Last fall, we started using similar tools to extend our efforts to a range of hate groups globally, including white supremacists. We're making progress, but we know we have a lot more work to do.

"Our efforts to combat hate don't stop here. As part of today's announcement, we'll also start connecting people who search for terms associated with white supremacy, to resources focused on helping people leave behind hate groups."

Facebook says people searching for these terms will be directed to Life After Hate, an organisation founded by former violent extremists that provides crisis intervention, education, support groups and outreach.

"Unfortunately, there will always be people who try to game our systems to spread hate. 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. We are deeply committed and will share updates as this process moves forward."

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