One week after the house that Mark Zuckerberg built revealed its plans to address the discriminatory nature in which it excludes minorities and other protected groups from accessing housing, employment, and credit advertisements comes the news that white supremacist rhetoric is no longer welcome on its platform—allegedly.
According to the Washington Post, Facebook will banish posts, photos, and other content that reference white nationalism and white separatism—so your timeline will soon be free and clear of Friends episodes or revolting pictures of acorn-laden potato salad.
“Today we’re announcing a ban on praise, support and representation of white nationalism and separatism on Facebook and Instagram, which we’ll start enforcing next week,” Facebook wrote in a statement. “It’s clear that these concepts are deeply linked to organized hate groups and have no place on our services.”
“Our policies have long prohibited hateful treatment of people based on characteristics such as race, ethnicity or religion—and that has always included white supremacy,” the statement continues. “We didn’t originally apply the same rationale to expressions of white nationalism and 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.”
The “we didn’t originally apply the same rationale to expressions of white nationalism and separatism” part is particularly interesting, considering Vice offshoot Motherboard took a peek behind the curtain last summer and exposed Facebook’s penchant for coddling racists.
Motherboard, a tech publication owned by Vice, obtained internal documents meant for training and guiding content reviewers that revealed Facebook treated the terms differently: The materials showed that Facebook permitted “praise, support and representation” of both white nationalism and white separatism “as an ideology.” The policy drew sharp rebukes from civil-rights advocates, who have argued for years that the terms are interchangeable.
But seemingly cured of its previous “ideology,” Facebook intends to right its egregious wrongs—even going as far as attempting to rehabilitate its “The South will rise again!” contingent.
“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 wrote in their statement. “People searching for these terms will be directed to Life After Hate, an organization founded by former violent extremists that provides crisis intervention, education, support groups and outreach.”
Which sounds a lot like when porn sites divert conflicted souls back to Google—something I would know absolutely nothing about, since I’ve never visited one before in my entire damn life—allegedly.
Also of note, Instagram will adhere to the same policy, which will make the comment section under @ConfederateFlagDads rather interesting.
In response to this announcement, Color of Change president Rashad Robinson issued the following statement to The Root:
“Color Of Change alerted Facebook years ago to the growing dangers of white nationalists on its platform, and today, we are glad to see the company’s leadership take this critical step forward in updating its policy on white nationalism. We look forward to continuing our work with Facebook to ensure that the platform’s content moderation guidelines and trainings properly support the updated policy and are informed by civil rights and racial justice organizations.
“Facebook’s update should move Twitter, YouTube, and Amazon to act urgently to stem the growth of white nationalist ideologies, which find space on platforms to spread the violent ideas and rhetoric that inspired the tragic attacks witnessed in Charlottesville, Pittsburgh, and now Christchurch.
“Color Of Change and its 1.5 million members will continue to work with Facebook to ensure the platform is safe for everyone and hold the leadership of all social platforms accountable to making the safety of users from marginalized communities an operational priority.