In a dramatic shift in policy, Facebook announced today that it is banning white nationalism and separatism on its platform. The decision, which was first reported by Motherboard, comes just under two weeks since a white supremacist killed 50 people in Christchurch, New Zealand.
In a blog post, Facebook said that any “praise, support, and representation of white nationalism and separatism” would be banned when the new policy goes into effect next week. “It’s clear that these concepts are deeply linked to organized hate groups and have no place on our services,” the blog read.
Facebook has prohibited white supremacist content for a while now, but hasn’t included white nationalism or separatism until today. Racist and hateful content based on race, ethnicity, and religion has been banned under the former policy, but under Facebook’s new rules, phrases like “Immigration is tearing this country apart; white separatism is the only answer” will also be prohibited.
“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 blog said.
According to Motherboard, the new policy was agreed upon by members of Facebook’s Content Standards Forum yesterday.
Under the new policy, anyone searching for racist content or phrases like “Heil Hitler” will be directed to the Life After Hate organization which provides services for former white supremacists and extremists like educational resources, support groups, and crisis intervention.
Advocates are hopeful that Facebook’s policy shift might light a fire under other platforms’ feet to make similar changes. “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 president Rashad Robinson said in a statement Wednesday.