Facebook currently has a policy banning white supremacy, and also has a policy explicitly allowing white nationalism and white separatism.
Critics of this policy have long argued that a meeting of a white nationalist and a white supremacist looks like this:
Facebook, on the other hand, has told these critics there's a difference between white supremacists and white nationalists. White supremacists, according to Facebook, are racists, while white nationalists are more like black separatists or Zionists, Motherboard reports.
“We don't just think about one particular group engaging in a certain speech, we think about, ‘What if different groups engaged in that same sort of speech?’ If they did, would we want to have a policy that prevented them from doing so?” Facebook's head of global policy management, Monika Bickert, stated earlier this year. “And so, where we've drawn the line right now is, where there is hate, where there is dismissing of other groups or saying that they are inferior, that sort of content, we would take down, and we would take it down from everybody.”
However, the popular social media platform is revisiting the policy thanks to the pressure by civil rights activists as well as the thorough investigative reporting performed by Motherboard. Leaked internal documents from Facebook following the Charlottesville white nationalist rally show pressure to change its long-standing policy.
“By attempting to distinguish white supremacy from white nationalism and white separatism, Facebook ignores centuries of history, legal precedent, and expert scholarship that all establish that white nationalism and white separatism are white supremacy,” reads a letter from the Stop Hate Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Indeed, when we met with your company this summer, both our staff as well as the staff at Facebook, were unable to identify an example of white nationalism or white separatism that was not white supremacist."
“The idea that they are making a distinction that is basically buying into what the white nationalists are trying to sell is deeply troubling,” noted Becky Monroe, the committee's director. The committee was formed under President John F. Kennedy's direction in order to make sure the gains of the civil rights movement weren't erased.
“What they’ve done is allowed white supremacists to rebrand themselves,” Heidi Beirich, head of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) Intelligence Project, said of Facebook. “White nationalism is something that people like David Duke [former leader of the Klu Klux Klan] and others came up with to sound less bad.”
The social media giant has yet to specify what its new white nationalist content policy will look like.
Now, check these out: