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5 Things to Know About Facebook’s New Ban on White Nationalism

March 28, 2019, 12:27 AM UTC

Facebook will ban content that supports white nationalism and separatism as it tries clean up its social network.

The company, which announced the new policy on Wednesday, has come under pressure for allowing hate groups to share content on its network. Most recently, the social network faced intense criticism for recently hosting a livestream of a gunman who killed 50 people at two mosques in New Zealand.

Facebook said it has long prohibited hateful content based on race, ethnicity, or religion. The company now plans to expand that ban to include “expressions of white nationalism and separatism,” which previously fell outside of its rules.

“It’s clear that these concepts are deeply linked to organized hate groups and have no place on our services,” Facebook said in a statement.

Under the new policy, Facebook will also redirect people who search for terms associated with white supremacy to Life After Hate, an organization that provides crisis intervention, education, support groups, and outreach.

Here are five things to know about the new policy:

What’s covered:

The new policy covers everything Facebook users post or create including articles, videos, comments, posts, pages, and groups.

How the policy will be enforced:

Enforcement will heavily rely on what users report. The company’s technology is unable to identify content that promotes white nationalism or separatism, said a Facebook spokesperson. So removing any content must be done manually. “We also need to get better and faster at finding and removing hate from our platforms,” the company said in its statement. “We’re making progress, but we know we have a lot more work to do.”

Posts vs. people:

Facebook will delete content that violates its new policies but, generally speaking, it will not exile the people who post that material. That means a self-identifying white nationalist could remain on Facebook, but any content, regardless of the source, that praises, supports, or represents white nationalism or separatism may be removed. Facebook chose to tweak its policies based on conversations it had with stakeholders including members of civil society groups and experts in race relations, a spokesperson said.

Celebrating “ethnic heritage”:

In its announcement, Facebook said users would “still be able to demonstrate pride in their ethnic heritage.” What that means, according to a Facebook spokesperson, is that people can still express their pride in America or celebrate their Irish roots, for example. They just can’t promote nationalism and separatism.

Plans to improve:

Facebook said it will be able to strengthen the enforcement its new policy over time as it learns more about white nationalist behavior. For example, the company is trying to identify more slogans and symbols associated with white nationalism and separatism so it can do a better job of policing its service, the spokesperson said.