Stirring up dissent

Image credit: Angel at the Door

Facebook has pretty robust guidelines on what is acceptable on their pages. Here is the extract relating to causing harm. Quote.

In an effort to prevent and disrupt real-world harm, we do not allow any organizations or individuals that proclaim a violent mission or are engaged in violence, from having a presence on Facebook. This includes organizations or individuals involved in the following:

Terrorist activity; organised hate; mass or serial murder; human trafficking; organised violence or criminal activity.

We also remove content that expresses support or praise for groups, leaders, or individuals involved in these activities.? End of quote.

No problem with that, and none with their latest edict which comes into effect next week. Quote.

Facebook will no longer allow content supporting white nationalism and white separatism, it said on Tuesday.

The announcement comes nearly a year after the revelation that its policy against white supremacy and hate speech still let users call for the creation of white ethno-states or claim the US ?should be a white-only nation?.

The policy change announced on Wednesday, which will go into effect next week, comes in the wake of a white supremacist terror attack on mosques in New Zealand that left 50 people dead, and as Facebook and other social media companies continue to grapple with the ways violent white supremacist groups are using their platforms for propaganda and recruitment.? End of quote.

The Guardian

It?s pretty clear that this new edict is solely about banning the use of Facebook to promote or recruit white supremacists or white nationalists.

But Newshub took Facebook?s edict and added their own concoction of hate speech, hate groups and far right groups (whatever they are) to distort what was a very simple statement. Quote.

Facebook’s ban on the “support, praise and representation” of white nationalism and separatism will make a big difference to hate groups, an expert says.

Massey University Professor Dr Paul Spoonley told Newshub banning the content will be a major road block for hate speech.

“It really does undermine the ability of far right groups to circulate material and to network.”

Facebook and Instagram will no longer allow white nationalist and separatist content from next week.

It said it’s clear they’re linked to hate groups.? End of quote.

There was no mention of hate speech, hate groups or far right groups in the Facebook release. Spoonley’s comments are misleading. Facebook rules are already clear on the issue of organised hate, and they are backed up in our own law.


Dr Spoonley said Facebook is often exploited by white supremacy groups.

“An important part of what the online platforms do for the far right, is to network and to compare notes and to compare strategies.

“It really does undermine the ability of far right groups to circulate material and to network.” End of quote.

It should be no surprise that Dr Spoonley was brought in to discuss American white supremacy and white nationalist groups, given his association with Massey University, which refused Don Brash a platform last year. One can only conclude that Spoonley was wheeled in simply to stir up trouble.

Spoonley is not saying outright that white supremacists and white nationalists are hiding amongst us, but he is certainly implying it. I find it hard to believe. Perhaps he includes Brash in that category? Quote.

Facebook did not mention the Christchurch terror attack, which saw 50 people killed when a gunman opened fire inside the Deans Ave and Linwood Ave mosques.? End of quote.


Facebook didn?t mention Christchurch at all, but the Guardian reported that the Facebook ban came directly after Christchurch. Because it has been reported that the killer was a white supremacist it’s not out of the range of possibility to see the link. Regardless, Facebook?s ban is global and not tailored toward New Zealand.

The other important issue here is the one of free speech. Bandying the terms “hate speech”, “hate groups” and “far right groups” is, if I’m being kind, mischievous. What is far right to one person will not be to another. More likely, Newshub’s article is plain old scaremongering. Our laws and Facebook guidelines are already quite clear and robust, but there are those who would like to add a layer of repression to free speech.

A pox on Newshub and Spoonley for stirring the pot of dissent.