In a blog post released today, Facebook has announced that it is banning white nationalism and white supremacy from its platform. This follows widespread criticism that it had not addressed the problem of hate speech sufficiently.
The move comes after consultations with academics and civil rights groups. “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,” the blog post said.
Part of this new initiative will include redirecting people searching for terms associated with white supremacy to a page that encourages people to leave hate groups.
While white supremacy was already forbidden on the platform, many instances of white nationalism and white separatism remained.
According to NBC News, Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change, released a statement that said, in part, “Facebook’s update should move Twitter, YouTube, and Amazon to act urgently to stem the growth of white nationalist ideologies.”
Though white nationalism isn’t specifically prohibited from Twitter’s rules and conditions, its rules do state that users are not to align themselves with organizations that “use or promote violence against civilians” on the platform.
Hateful images and symbols, up to and including memes, are also prohibited. Users also cannot use such photos in their profile pictures or banners, as Twitter says they enforce these policies vigorously and regardless of ideological affiliation.
Many social justice activists are hailing this move as step forward, and indeed this appears to be positive development in the eyes of most rational people.
However, there is a concern that these new restrictions could be too broadly applied, considering how often perfectly reasonable, prominent, mainstream figures like PewDiePie and Jordan Peterson get smeared as “white nationalists.”
Just earlier today, a social justice activist named Anthony Watson tweeted the preposterous claim that the centrist intellectual journal Quillette was “white nationalist”
As long as Facebook applies this new policy to actual hate speech and disregards the hysterical rhetoric of organizations like the frequently debunked SPLC and of craven hoaxsters like Watson, then this new policy should be welcomed by all.