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New Zealand: Business leaders & govt. call on Facebook to do more to rid platform of extremist content after live streaming terrorist attack in mosques

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Company response
26 March 2019

Response from Facebook to letter from executives of Vodafone NZ, Speak & 2degrees

Author: Facebook

We continue to keep the people, families, and communities impacted by the tragedy in Christchurch in our hearts. Since the attack, we have been working closely with the New Zealand Police to respond to the attack and support their investigation. We removed the attacker’s video within minutes of the New Zealand Police’s outreach to us, and in the first 24 hours following the attack, removed more than 1.2 million copies of the attack video at upload using AI, preventing them from being seen on our services. Approximately 300,000 additional copies were removed after they were posted.

As we continue to work to support the New Zealand Police and to prevent the spread of this horrific content, we are also working to improve our proactive detection technology to more quickly and effectively detect content that violates our Community Standards while ensuring that people who use Facebook can engage in legitimate online expression. We’ve shared more details on our efforts at https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2019/03/technical-update-on-new-zealand/.

Download the full document here

27 March 2019

Facebook bans white nationalism & separatism content from its platforms

Author: Sasha Ingber, NPR

Facebook announced Wednesday that it intends to ban content that glorifies white nationalism and separatism, a major policy shift that will begin next week... Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the National Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, tells NPR that "[f]or too long, Facebook has maintained a policy that carved out an indefensible distinction between white supremacy and white nationalism and white separatism, and that carve-out allowed violent white supremacists to openly exploit the platform to incite violence across the country and frankly across the globe."

... Vera Eidelman, staff attorney with the ACLU [ said], "White supremacist, nationalist and separatist views are repugnant, and Facebook as a private company is well within its rights to remove such hate and bigotry from its platform. Indeed, any content that crosses the line into incitement or true threats is not protected speech... [however] Facebook runs the risk of censoring those that attack white nationalism, too... every time Facebook makes the choice to remove content, a single company is exercising an unchecked power to silence individuals and remove them from what has become an indispensable platform... For the same reason that the Constitution prevents the government from exercising such power, we should be wary of encouraging its exercise by corporations that are answerable to their private shareholders rather than the broader public interest."

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28 March 2019

Facebook bans white nationalism from platform after pressure from civil rights groups

Author: David Ingram and Ben Collins, NBCnews

"Facebook bans white nationalism from platform after pressure from civil rights groups," 27 March 2019

[Facebook] said in a blog post Wednesday that conversations with academics and civil rights groups convinced the company to expand its policies around hate groups... Scrutiny of Facebook reached new heights in the past two weeks after a gunman in Christchurch, New Zealand, used Facebook to livestream his attacks on two mosques that killed 50 people... Facebook's policies [had previously] banned white supremacy but allowed white nationalism and white separatism... Facebook has previously taken action in the wake of race-based violence, removing links to a white supremacist website and taking down a page used to organize the "Unite The Right" rally in 2017...

"Facebook's update should move Twitter, YouTube, and Amazon to act urgently to stem the growth of white nationalist ideologies, which find space on platforms to spread the violent ideas and rhetoric that inspired the tragic attacks witnessed in Charlottesville, Pittsburgh, and now Christchurch," [said] Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change. A Twitter representative Wednesday declined to say whether the company was considering adopting a similar change. Amazon and YouTube did not immediately respond to requests for comment... On Tuesday, Ime Archibong, Facebook's vice president of product partnerships, revealed some details about a new oversight board that the company is forming to provide guidance on its "most challenging and contentious content decisions" and "hold us publicly accountable if we don't get them right."... “The board, as currently envisioned, will consist of about 40 global experts with experience in content, privacy, free expression, human rights, journalism and safety."

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28 March 2019

Facebook blog piece announces ban on white nationalism & separatism

Author: Facebook

"Standing Against Hate", 27 March 2019

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... [O]ur conversations with members of civil society and academics...who are experts in race relations... have confirmed that white nationalism and separatism cannot be meaningfully separated from white supremacy and organized hate groups... Going forward, while people will still be able to demonstrate pride in their ethnic heritage, we will not tolerate praise or support for white nationalism and separatism... We also need to get better and faster at finding and removing hate from our platforms... We're making progress, but we know we have a lot more work to do... [W]e'll also start connecting people who search for terms associated with white supremacy to resources focused on helping people leave behind hate groups. People searching for these terms will be directed to Life After Hate, an organization founded by former violent extremists that provides crisis intervention, education, support groups and outreach... Our challenge is to stay ahead by continuing to improve our technologies, evolve our policies and work with experts who can bolster our own efforts. We are deeply committed and will share updates as this process moves forward.

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28 March 2019

Facebook now bans white nationalism and separatism, not just white supremacy

Author: Hanna Kozlowska

Facebook is banning white nationalism and white separatism from its platforms, eliminating the controversial distinction it had historically drawn between those ideologies and white supremacy... Facebook has always prohibited white supremacy as an example of "hateful treatment of people based on characteristics such as race, ethnicity, or religion," the company explained. It did not extend this logic to white nationalism and separatism because it saw them as examples of the broader concepts of nationalism and separatism... Last year, this distinction was laid bare in training documents for Facebook content moderators that leaked to Motherboard. Experts and anti-hate groups critical of the policy pointed out that these ideologies overlap, and that the distinction was a technicality...The platform will connect people searching for terms associated with white supremacy with the group Life After Hate, which is run by former extremists and helps people leave hate groups.

Read the full post here