Facebook and Instagram ban white nationalism

The platforms will start banning pages and accounts that promote white nationalism from the beginning of April. This change comes after the New Zealand massacre was shown live for 17 minutes on Facebook.

Facebook has announced that it will start cracking down on white nationalist and white separatist posts next week, after the terrorist attack in New Zealand was livestreamed in the platform. The ban also applies to Instagram, purchased by  Facebook back in 2012 for around US$1 billion.

The users making the posts will be redirected to the page of ‘Life After Hate’, a non-profit organization founded in 2011 that helps people get out of hate groups.

“Our policies have long prohibited hateful treatment of people based on characteristics such as race, ethnicity or religion”, the company’s statement says. This ban on white nationalism and separatism specifically only comes now because they “were thinking about broader concepts of nationalism and separatism”.

However, after speaking to experts on race relations, the social media platform changed its policy.

“Experts in race relations around the world have confirmed that white nationalism and white separatism cannot be meaningfully separated from white supremacy and organized hate groups”, the statement reads.

Previous controversies

The attempt at fighting the propagation of discrimination in the platform comes at a time when Facebook is being accused of making it harder for certain groups of people to search for houses. The current ad system on Facebook allows landlords to segment their target audience based on criteria like nationality, religious beliefs, gender, marital status or having or not having physical disabilities. The accusation comes from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), with secretary Ben Carson claiming that “using a computer to limit a person’s housing choices can be just as discriminatory as slamming a door in someone’s face”. The HUD has already filed charges against the social media platform before an administrative court judge, which can moved to a federal court if either the HUD or Facebook want to do so.

In 2017, Facebook was also under fire for allowing the targeting of ads to people interested in topics such as “jew hater” and “how to burn jews”. Last year, the platform was also accused of allowing companies to only advertise job offers to men.

In a statement, Facebook responded to the criticism saying that “there is a long history of discrimination in the areas of housing, employment and credit” and that “this harmful behavior should not happen through Facebook ads”.

“Our policies already prohibit advertisers from using our tools to discriminate. We’ve removed thousands of categories from targeting related to protected classes such as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and religion. But we can do better”, the company finishes.

Photo of Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, by: JD Lasica, Wikimedia Commons

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