It’s comforting to think that we live in an era where incapacitating vocal white supremacy ended with the Nazis and Hitler. There’s a sense of security that people are evolving into a more accepting society regardless of race and ethnicity. On social media, we can see how people call out others who act otherwise and try to correct their ideologies.
Social media has allowed minorities to create communities, making them feel more substantial in the grand scale of things. It has cultivated a society that allowed breaking the stigma and opened a possibility between races, gender, and so much more. Further, everyone has a voice they can stand with and a community to support them. But, this works in both ways.
Social media is pretty much like a hydra. As we try to fix a problem, another comes in its place. Issues like white supremacy may have been not as vocal as they were before, but it still exists. It runs deep, grounded on beliefs that took decades to culture, and it’s not a surprise why there are still people who believe that they are the superior race and the rest are merely beneath them.
In a vast platform that connects people across the globe, it’s easy to find people who have the same sentiments over certain issues like you do.
Although Facebook has made the first banning of all white supremacist content in its platform, there are still repercussions that it allows to foster. Critics have raised the concern that white separatist and white nationalist materials continue to follow the same set of principles with white supremacism; hence, should altogether be banned.
This is abruptly raised after a man massacred 50 people at a Christchurch mosque in New Zealand. The shooter posted the video on Facebook via Live, and it was not immediately detected and removed. People felt frustrated and relentless by the slow action Facebook is taking over managing content that’s shared across its platform. Civil rights groups raised that they should treat white separatists and nationalists of what they are: supremacists that needs to be handled.
In reaction, Facebook has taken the necessary action that would help resolve the issue. In a March 27 blog post, Facebook said that any posts that “praise, support, and representation of white nationalism and separatism” are to be banned from their platform and that “it’s clear that these concepts are deeply linked to organized hate groups and have no place on our services.”
This policy will ban posts but not exile people who post those kinds of content. Also, people will be able to take pride over their ethnicity like being an Irish person for events like St. Patrick’s Day but will ban their posts when they start implying dominance over others. There is a delicate balance that Facebook needs to be cautious about; asserting action and civil rights.
The new policy will be implemented starting next week but will take more time for more complex and coded messages. It’s not perfect, but it will be a significant step.
However, some may argue that silencing individuals and communities may not be enough to actually impact a change in behavior. It’s merely prolonging a long-cultured behavior and simply putting a band-aid solution to a bleeding problem.
Interestingly, what Facebook will do is that they will redirect people who post such content to a site by Life After Hate, an organization created by ex-white supremacists to guide them from departing hate groups.
“Online radicalization is a process, not an outcome,” Life After Hate said in a statement. “Our goal is to insert ourselves in that continuum, so that our voice is there for people to consider as they explore extremist ideologies online.”
Overall, it’s not a perfect system but the platform itself can only do so much to shape people’s behaviors and choices. Regardless, they have done something about it.
Racial justice advocacy group Color of Change praised the move. “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.”