WASHINGTON, D.C. – In response to Facebook’s continued failure to adequately address hateful activities on its platform, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law released a letter today issued to Facebook urging them to reverse course in allowing users to post content that praises, supports, and represents white nationalism and white separatism as an ideology on the social platform.
During months of ongoing dialogue between Facebook and members of the civil rights community, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law expressed its concerns to Facebook over its failure to recognize that white nationalism and white separatism are intrinsically racist and segregationist subsets of white supremacy. However, despite extensive research on the topic, Facebook chose to continue using definitions of white supremacy, white nationalism, and white separatism lifted largely from Wikipedia.
“White nationalism and white separatism are merely rhetorical launderings of white supremacy designed to make racism more palatable to new audiences,” said Becky Monroe, Director of the Stop Hate Project for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “By failing to recognize the threat of segregation, Facebook ignores centuries of history, legal precedent, and expert scholarship that establish that white nationalism and white separatism are white supremacy. Ill-informed training materials like these result in arbitrary and uneven enforcement, enabling hate in practice. Hiring experts on racism and hatred and rewriting these training materials are not difficult or expensive tasks for a company worth over $500 billion.”
Earlier this year, journalists published leaked excerpts of Facebook’s training materials for identifying hate speech that violated their terms of service. These documents state that while Facebook does not allow white supremacy or racism on the platform, it does allow white nationalism and white separatism, including “the call for the creation of white ethno-states (Eg. ‘The US should be a white-only nation.’).” Facebook’s materials states that the platform does not “allow praise, support and representation of white supremacy as an ideology” but does “allow praise, support and representation of white nationalism [and white separatism] as an ideology.” In the leaked materials, Facebook claims white separatism is different “from racial segregation, as it advocates separate states for different races rather than discriminatory laws for different races in a multicultural society.”
In its letter, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law charges that Facebook’s training materials:
- Fail to recognize that white nationalism and white separatism are synonymous with white supremacy;
- Express a stance on white nationalism and white separatism that allows content that violates community standards to remain on Facebook; and
- Predominantly rely on Wikipedia entries for its source material.
To read the letter, click here.