Facebook Is Reviewing its Policy on White Nationalism After Motherboard Investigation, Civil Rights Backlash


Facebook told Motherboard it’s currently reviewing its policies on white supremacy, white nationalism, and white separatism after a series of meetings with civil rights leaders, reporting by Motherboard on these policies, and a forceful letter from a civil rights group formed under the direction of President John F. Kennedy.

Leaked internal documents show that Facebook’s content moderators are explicitly instructed to allow “white separatism” and “white nationalism” on the platform, but note that “white supremacy” is banned. Facebook makes this distinction because it argues in those documents that white nationalism “doesn’t seem to be always associated with racism (at least not explicitly.)”

Now, following that reporting, multiple leading civil rights groups and Black history scholars are calling for Facebook to change its stance, saying that separatism and nationalism are a thinly-veiled mask for white supremacy.

“The idea that they are making a distinction that is basically buying into what the white nationalists are trying to sell is deeply troubling,” Becky Monroe, the director of the Stop Hate Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, told Motherboard in a phone call.

The organization was formed in 1963 at the request of John F. Kennedy at the height of the civil rights movement. Monroe told Motherboard the committee met with Facebook over the summer to discuss the issue, and, in a letter the committee wrote to the company earlier this month obtained by Motherboard, it says Facebook’s stance is at odds with the central tenet of Brown v. Board of Education, the foundational Supreme Court ruling which found the doctrine of racial segregation is inherently unequal.

“By attempting to distinguish white supremacy from white nationalism and white separatism, Facebook ignores centuries of history, legal precedent, and expert scholarship that all establish that white nationalism and white separatism are white supremacy,” the letter states (emphasis theirs.) “Indeed, when we met with your company this summer, both our staff as well as the staff at Facebook, were unable to identify an example of white nationalism or white separatism that was not white supremacist.