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Facebook Will Start Banning White Nationalists, Separatists

Facebook is tightening the rules around content produced by the fringe right: The company is going to ban “praise, support and representation of white nationalism and separatism” on both Facebook and Instagram, it announced Wednesday.

“Going forward, while people will still be able to demonstrate pride in their ethnic heritage, we will not tolerate praise or support for white nationalism and separatism,” the company said in a blog post. Facebook said that it would start enforcing the new rules next week.

The ban on white nationalism comes two weeks after the deadly mass shooting in New Zealand, which had been live streamed on Facebook. While critics initially focused on Facebook’s and its competitors struggles to remove footage shot by the perpetrator of the shooting, a self-declared white supremacist, many have since also asked how the kind of ideology shared by the shooter and his supporters was being allowed on social media in the first place.

Facebook has long had policies to ban white supremacist content, but the company said on Wednesday that it became increasingly clear that this was not enough. “Over the past three months our conversations with members of civil society and academics who are experts in race relations around the world have confirmed that white nationalism and separatism cannot be meaningfully separated from white supremacy and organized hate groups,” it said in its blog post.

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Facebook said on Wednesday that it would also redirect any search terms for white nationalist and white supremacist content to a page maintained by Life After Hate, a group dedicated to helping right-wing extremists to discover different points of view, and ultimately overcome their beliefs.

The company also said that it would continue to invest in artificial intelligence to find and remove extremist and white nationalist content, while also addressing some of the shortcomings of the technology.

“Unfortunately, there will always be people who try to game our systems to spread hate,” the company wrote. “Our challenge is to stay ahead by continuing to improve our technologies, evolve our policies and work with experts who can bolster our own efforts.”

 

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