Facebook on Wednesday announced that it will begin banning "praise, support and representation of white nationalism and separatism" on both Facebook and Instagram.
The company had already been blocking users from sharing messages which glorify white supremacy - while civil rights advocates have long argued that white nationalism and white separatism are the same thing.
Facebook claimed in a Wednesday blog post that "people will still be able to demonstrate pride in their ethnic heritage," they will "not tolerate praise or support for white nationalism or separatism."
[O]ver 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. Our own review of hate figures and organizations – as defined by our Dangerous Individuals & Organizations policy – further revealed the overlap between white nationalism and separatism and white supremacy. 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. -Facebook
In May of last year, internal training materials leaked to Motherboard revealed that Facebook treated the terms differently - allowing the "praise, support and representation" of white nationalism and white separatism "as an ideology," according to the Washington Post.
Civil rights groups applauded the move. “There is no defensible distinction that can be drawn between white supremacy, white nationalism or white separatism in society today,” Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said Wednesday in a statement.
The organization had pushed Facebook for months to change its policies, pointing to pages such as “It’s okay to be white,” which has more than 18,000 followers and has regularly defended white nationalism. Another, called “American White History Month 2,” often posted white-supremacist memes, according to the Lawyers’ Committee. A cached version of the page from late February showed it had more than 258,000 followers before it went offline. -WaPo
Facebook's move has some wondering where exactly they draw the lines, and whether they plan to do anything about non-white race-based supremacy groups.
Facebook says it is banning white nationalist content. This is understandable when it's violent, but where do they draw the line? Is talking about "white people issues" now forbidden? How long can we sustain today's asymmetry in identity politics? https://t.co/AsY8N9Yhhj— Jeff Giesea🌿 (@jeffgiesea) March 27, 2019
Banning all "white identity" because of violent acts done in its name is like saying we should ban all Muslims because of ISIS. This is dumb and counter-productive.— Jeff Giesea🌿 (@jeffgiesea) March 27, 2019
I support pushing violent extremism in ALL forms out of the public square, but we must be precise in drawing lines
Black Panthers and the Nation of Islam (Black American Muslim sect) are both ethnic separatist movements.— Ali Alexander (@ali) March 27, 2019
Non-violent and I disagree with them, but there’s no reason to noplatform white or black separatists/segregationists. It’s an idea.
I’m deeply troubled by this decision. https://t.co/dAiEuH27wS
It's no longer okay. https://t.co/PXC1IqpmaS— Nick Monroe (@nickmon1112) March 27, 2019