Skip to Content
Silicon Valley

Facebook has finally banned white nationalism and white separatism on its platform

March 28, 2019

It’s a major reversal from its previous policy of distinguishing between “white nationalism,” “white separatism,” and “white supremacy.”

Why now? The change comes after months of pressure from activists and academics who say the ideologies are indistinguishable, Motherboard reports. Although Facebook doesn’t explicitly acknowledge it, the recent terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand (which was live-streamed on Facebook) was surely an impetus for the announcement.

The changes: When users try to post or search for content associated with these ideologies, they will be redirected to Life After Hate, a group founded by former far-right extremists. The policy will start to be implemented next week and will apply to both Facebook and Instagram.

Enforcement: Of course, policies like this are only as good as the efforts to enforce them. Facebook relies heavily on machine learning techniques to catch content that breaks its rules, and an army of contractors. It’s an imperfect system for policing its 2.5 billion users. And while we might applaud its latest announcement, it’s yet another reminder that tech platforms are not neutral publishers—they constantly make judgements on what is and is not acceptable.

Sign up here to our daily newsletter The Download to get your dose of the latest must-read news from the world of emerging tech.

Deep Dive

Silicon Valley

Here’s how a Twitter engineer says it will break in the coming weeks

One insider says the company’s current staffing isn’t able to sustain the platform.

Twitter’s potential collapse could wipe out vast records of recent human history

What happens when the world’s knowledge is held in a quasi-public square owned by a private company that could soon go out of business?

Twitter may have lost more than a million users since Elon Musk took over

Estimates from Bot Sentinel suggest that more than 875,000 users deactivated their accounts between October 27 and November 1, while half a million more were suspended.

Former Twitter employees fear the platform might only last weeks

An ultimatum by Elon Musk demanding "extremely hardcore" working culture appears to have backfired. Insiders fear this could spell the end without drastic changes.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.