- Facebook’s new policy, which bans white nationalism from its platform, is too narrow, civil rights auditors said, because it only prohibits content which explicitly uses the phrases “white nationalism” or “white separatism.”
- In March, the social media giant announced it would ban “praise, support and representation of white nationalism and white separatism” on its platforms in an effort to combat hate speech.
- Auditors hired by Facebook in 2018 said in a report released Sunday the company’s attempts to limit “white nationalism” and “white separatism” on the site only targeted content which explicitly used those phrases.
- In a post on Sunday, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg acknowledged gaps in the company’s ability to censor hate speech and said it was addressing the concerns laid out by auditors.
- The social media giant has been stepping up its monitoring of hateful content online after a gunman livestreamed his attacks on two mosques in New Zealand.
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Facebook’s new policy, which bans white nationalism from its platform, is too narrow, civil rights auditors say, because it only prohibits content which explicitly uses the phrases “white nationalism” or “white separatism.”
The social media platform announced in March it would ban “praise, support and representation of white nationalism and white separatism on Facebook and Instagram,” which it said would be enforced from the beginning of April. The company said hate speech, including promoting white supremacist views, has long been banned from the site, but confirmed white nationalism and white separatism were concepts that would be considered hate speech going forward.
But auditors, hired by Facebook in 2018 to “advance civil rights on the platform,” concluded in a report released Sunday the new policy was “too narrow” because it only banned content that explicitly used the terms “white nationalism” or “white separatism.”
“The narrow scope of the policy leaves up content that expressly espouses white nationalist ideology without using the term ‘white nationalist.’ As a result, content that would cause the same harm is permitted to remain on the platform,” the report read.
The audit team, led by the ACLU’s former Washington director Laura Murphy, recommended that Facebook expand its policy beyond banning direct mention of white nationalism or separatism.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg admitted in December that Facebook needed to “do more” in order to protect civil rights on the site.
In a post on Sunday, Sandberg said the civil rights audit “gives an update on our progress and points out where we need to do more.” She also acknowledged gaps in the company’s ability to censor hate speech and said the company was addressing concerns laid out by auditors by “identifying hate slogans and symbols connected to white nationalism and white separatism to better enforce our policy.
“We also recently updated our policies so Facebook isn’t used to organize events that intimidate or harass people based on their race, religion, or other parts of their identity,” she wrote. “We now ban posts from people who intend to bring weapons anywhere to intimidate or harass others, or who encourage people to do the same.”
Facebook’s decision to step up its monitoring of hate speech came just weeks after a gunman attacked worshippers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, which killed 51 people and injured dozens more. As the attack was unfolding, the shooter livestreamed the massacre on Facebook, where it quickly spread to other social media platforms. The shooter is believed to have posted a 74-page racist manifesto online before the attack and promised to “take revenge on the invaders for the hundreds and thousands of deaths caused by foreign invaders.”
In April, Facebook banned users who breached the site’s community guidelines from posting livestream videos in order to prevent the spread of potentially harmful content online. The company has also committed to fighting discrimination in its ads and has said it would protect against misinformation in the upcoming US election and 2020 Census.
SEE ALSO: Facebook will stop rule breakers live streaming after the Christchurch massacre, but is set to resist bigger changes
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