Not that the current US government cares, but apparently New Zealand's "fix this or else" conversation with Facebook over the white supremacist who shot up two mosques earlier this month while splashing live video of the massacre all over Facebook and Instagram was finally what it took to get the company to start removing these assholes from its social media services.
In a major policy shift for the world’s biggest social media network, Facebook banned white nationalism and white separatism on its platform Tuesday. Facebook will also begin directing users who try to post content associated with those ideologies to a nonprofit that helps people leave hate groups, Motherboard has learned.
The new policy, which will be officially implemented next week, highlights the malleable nature of Facebook’s policies, which govern the speech of more than 2 billion users worldwide. And Facebook still has to effectively enforce the policies if it is really going to diminish hate speech on its platform. The policy will apply to both Facebook and Instagram.
Last year, a Motherboard investigation found that, though Facebook banned “white supremacy” on its platform, it explicitly allowed “white nationalism” and “white separatism.” After backlash from civil rights groups and historians who say there is no difference between the ideologies, Facebook has decided to ban all three, two members of Facebook’s content policy team said.
“We’ve had conversations with more than 20 members of civil society, academics, in some cases these were civil rights organizations, experts in race relations from around the world,” Brian Fishman, policy director of counterterrorism at Facebook, told us in a phone call. “We decided that the overlap between white nationalism, [white] separatism, and white supremacy is so extensive we really can’t make a meaningful distinction between them. And that’s because the language and the rhetoric that is used and the ideology that it represents overlaps to a degree that it is not a meaningful distinction.”
Specifically, Facebook will now ban content that includes explicit praise, support, or representation of white nationalism or separatism. Phrases such as “I am a proud white nationalist” and “Immigration is tearing this country apart; white separatism is the only answer” will now be banned, according to the company. Implicit and coded white nationalism and white separatism will not be banned immediately, in part because the company said it’s harder to detect and remove.
The decision was formally made at Facebook’s Content Standards Forum on Tuesday, a meeting that includes representatives from a range of different Facebook departments in which content moderation policies are discussed and ultimately adopted. Fishman told Motherboard that Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg was involved in the formulation of the new policy, though roughly three dozen Facebook employees worked on it.
Civil rights organizations have been after Facebook for years on this and given that the Obama administration looked the other way on Silicon Valley way too often and the Trump regime could not care less about policing white supremacists when they are the world's leading white supremacist group, you will never convince me that Facebook gave a damn until Australia threatened to start putting social media executives in prison earlier this week.
Following the livestreamed New Zealand mosque shooting that left 50 dead in Christchurch, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is looking to crack down on extremist content on social media.
Morrison will on Tuesday meet with Australian executives of Facebook, Twitter and Google to discuss extremist content legislation that would punish these companies' executives with jail time, the Australian Financial Review reports. Local internet service providers will also be present at the meeting.
"If social media companies fail to demonstrate a willingness to immediately institute changes to prevent the use of their platforms, like what was filmed and shared by the perpetrators of the terrible offences in Christchurch, we will take action," said Morrison.
"We are considering all options to keep Australians safe."
And lo and behold 48 hours later we get this policy.
Amazing how that works. Australia helping New Zealand do yeoman's work, when we surely won't here.