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.
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