Everyone put your hands together for Facebook for finally banning white nationalism.
The company announced in a blog post on Thursday morning that, as of next week, there will be a ban on praise, support and representation of white nationalism and separatism on both Facebook and Instagram.
“It’s clear that these concepts are deeply linked to organized hate groups and have no place on our services,” said the post, as if the company had just discovered racism and also that racism was bad.
Facebook says it has always prohibited hate based on race, ethnicity, or religion, but declared white nationalism and separatism had fallen out of that mould because “we were thinking about broader concepts of nationalism and separatism” like “American pride” and “Basque separatism”. Okay.
Apparently, Facebook was able to determine that white nationalism could not be separated from white supremacy and organised hate groups after three months of research and conversation. Cool! Next time, I recommend the platform saves its time and just spends literally a day on its own site.
The company is also continuing to upgrade its machine learning technology, in an effort to find and remove hate better and faster. “We’re making progress, but we know we have a lot more work to do.”
Now, far be it from me to decry a multi-billion – possibly trillion – dollar company for not responding to racism, hatred, and other forms of bigotry fast enough. Things are tough! It’s not like anyone has been telling Facebook repeatedly that they have an issue (everyone has).
In 2018, Motherboard reported that Facebook explicitly allowed white nationalism and white separatism as it did not associate the two with white supremacy. After talking with academics, civil rights organisations, and experts in race relations, Facebook has discovered that actually, they’re all the same.
“We can’t really make a meaningful distinction between them,” said Brian Fishman, the policy of counterterrorism at Facebook.
People searching for phrases related to white supremacy will instead be directed to Life After Hate, an organisation that provides education, support, and crisis intervention. Here’s a very normal graphic someone at Facebook HQ cooked up to demonstrate how that’s gonna look:
So, Facebook is finally – seemingly – doing something about white nationalism on its site. That’s good, I guess. But they should have done it years ago, and if it had been profitable to do so it would have. The damage done by delaying improvements like this – themselves just minor tweaks in a bigger and scarier machine – is impossible to be measured. Instead, we just have a handful of larger, horrific incidents to point at.