Facebook, the social network hegemon, has finally come to its senses.
Within the next few days, Facebook and the company it owns, Instagram, are expected to ban or delete existing white nationalist posts.
Facebook, with 2.3 billion monthly active users, made this known on March 27: “Today we’re announcing a ban on praise, support and representation of white nationalism and separatism on Facebook and Instagram, which we’ll start enforcing next week. It’s clear that these concepts are deeply linked to organized hate groups and have no place on our services.”
Facebook also announced it will direct users looking for white nationalist material to sites offering a diametrically opposed message.
These are important benchmarks in the battle to counter the hatred, explicit or subtle, spewed out by American white nationalists like Richard Spencer, the so-called philosopher of the alt-right in the United States.
At long last Facebook has come to the realization that white nationalism and white supremacy are virtually identical and similarly toxic.
Until now, Facebook banned white supremacist content but allowed white nationalist and white separatist content on the grounds that they were not always explicitly associated with racism. Facebook apparently feared that if it banned white nationalists and white separatists, it would have no alternative but to consider banning such legitimate groups as the Zionist or Basque movements.
This was faulty logic, of course. Facebook, belatedly, may well have recognized the error of its ways after an Australian malcontent associated with white nationalism fatally shot 50 Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand, recently and live-streamed the massacre on Facebook.
In the wake of that mass murder, Facebook correctly concluded that “white nationalism and separatism cannot be meaningfully separated from white supremacy and organized hate groups.” Impartial observers were always aware that white nationalism is the flip side of white supremacy. Why it took Facebook so long to understand this fundamental fact is difficult to comprehend.
What’s important now is that Facebook’s new policy deals a heavy blow to run-of-the-mill hate mongers and professional racists and antisemites like David Duke, a key figure in the alt-right and the former wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. They will have to work much harder in the future to convey their vile propaganda to the masses.
And while Facebook should be applauded for formally joining the anti-racist camp, Facebook still has a lot of work to do in this field.
Facebook’s chief executive officer, Mark Zuckerberg, caused an uproar in 2018 when he said that Facebook would not remove Holocaust denial posts. In light of Facebook’s long overdue decision to ban white nationalist and white separatist content from its platform, it should now move expeditiously to take down posts distributed by Holocaust deniers.
Holocaust denial, a staple of right-wing extremist movements, is nothing less than antisemitism. It’s a pernicious attempt to twist and mangle history and thereby defame Jews. This is crystal clear to anyone who has ever studied this malevolent phenomenon.
Being Jewish and being in touch with current events, Zuckerberg should surely recognize what maliciousness and evil Holocaust deniers are up to. When will he finally hit them where it hurts?