Facebook announced that they will begin banning those who support and represent white nationalism and white separatism on both Facebook and Instagram on March 27.
This decision came 13 days after a white nationalist opened fire on a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 50 people while recording the shooting on Facebook Live.
The shooter had dozens of white nationalist slogans on the rifle he used to carry out the attack, and before he began shooting, he paused to endorse a Youtube star, saying, “Remember lads, subscribe to PewDiePie.”
Facebook is not the first platform to start banning people for posting white nationalist content. Twitter has been banning important figures of the alt-right for years now, most notably Milo Yiannopoulos in 2016 for his crude comments about actor Leslie Jones and encouraging his followers to racially abuse Jones.
This is also not a knee jerk reaction to the Christchurch shooting; Facebook stated that it has been discussing this idea with experts in race relations for three months. Facebook also explained that posting about having pride in your heritage or patriotism will not result in a ban — only promoting white nationalism would.
Unlike being proud of your heritage or having pride in your country, white nationalism has had a long history of dehumanizing people of color all over the world.
Facebook has received criticism only from the right for this new policy. Conservatives have accused Facebook of having a bias against them. However, Facebook has the right to ban anyone they want for whatever reason, since it is a private corporation.
If Facebook was publically owned, then yes, they would have to abide by the First Amendment and allow white nationalists to use their platform. However, Facebook’s reasoning is that people use the term “white nationalism” to make the ideology sound more normal. In reality, white nationalists are intersected with white supremacy and promote hate.
Many thought that Charlottesville was the end of the alt-right as a growing movement in the United States. A woman was killed by a member of the alt-right while counter-protesting the “Unite the Right” rally. It was believed that white nationalism was back to being limited on the fringes of the internet, but the Christchurch shooting proves that white nationalism and the alt-right still have an influence.
People also do not just become full-blown white supremacists. It is a gradual downward-spiral that begins with introducing people to the concept of white nationalism through memes, videos and websites.
Banning those who post this type of content on all social media will save young men and women from falling victim to the trap that is white nationalism.
Facebook is in the right for acting on the white nationalism that infests their platform. It is clear that social media played a role in the Christchurch shooting. The shooter utilized Facebook Live to broadcast the event to the world, and the shooter himself was radicalized by the internet.
To prevent another massacre, social media must suppress content involving white nationalism and white supremacy, for people are using social media as a tool to radicalize thousands of people.