Facebook Reviews Content Policy That Bans ‘White Supremacy’ But OKs ‘White Separatism’ And ‘White Nationalism’

Written by Dana Sanchez

Facebook is reviewing its content policies that allow “white separatism” and “white nationalism” on the platform, but ban “white supremacy,” after civil rights groups and a media report shone a spotlight on the practice.

Facebook makes a distinction, arguing that white nationalism “doesn’t seem to be always associated with racism (at least not explicitly), ”according to leaked internal documents obtained by Motherboard.

The job of policing content falls to Facebook content moderators. It can be a terrible job. They’re faced with an ever-evolving set of standards and must constantly be retrained. It’s hard to retain them.

Facebook told Motherboard it’s reviewing its policies on white supremacy, white nationalism, and white separatism after meetings with civil rights leaders, a letter from a civil rights group and a Motherboard report on these policies.

Most scholars on the topic believe that white nationalism and separatism are fundamentally the same as white supremacy, a research analyst said in a statement to Gizmodo.

“There is no distinction between white nationalism and white supremacy,” said Keegan Hankes, a senior research analyst at the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Black history scholars and civil rights groups say that Facebook should change its policies, Motherboard reported.

Darrell Flinn, a member of the Knights of the White Kamellia, speaks during a Ku Klux Klan rally Saturday, June 27, 1998, in Jasper, Texas. The KKK held a rally to denounce the dragging death of James Byrd Jr., who was beaten and fatally dragged behind a pickup truck down a rural road. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)


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

The Committee for Civil Rights Under Law met with Facebook to discuss the issue. In a letter to Facebook, the committee said Facebook’s stance is at odds with Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court ruling that made racial segregation illegal:

“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 said. “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.”

President Donald Trump has helped push white nationalist ideas into the mainstream, Washington Post reported in August:

“When Trump tweeted about land seizures from white farmers in South Africa, “he wasn’t just amplifying a narrative he heard from Fox News host Tucker Carlson. Trump was also elevating a storyline that has floated around white supremacist blogs, podcasts and online forums for years. And the president’s tweet shows how these white supremacist ideas bubble up from the Internet’s darkest corners into the Oval Office.”