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In his testimony on Capitol Hill last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg gave what sounded like an absolutist policy on hate. “We do not allow hate groups on Facebook, overall,” he said. “So if there’s a group that their primary purpose or a large part of what they do is spreading hate, we will ban them from the platform overall.”
But some of the most prominent organizations that activists say are dedicated to hate and bigotry still thrive openly on Facebook.
Facebook appears to have actively kept hardcore neo-Nazi and Klu Klux Klan groups off their platform, including Vanguard America and the National Socialist Movement. But the issue gets murkier when it comes to groups espousing white nationalism or immigration policies that can directly or indirectly veer into racism.
“What we are seeing is a blurring of the lines with regard to bigoted discourse and mainstream sociopolitical expression,” said Brian Levin, professor of criminal justice and director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. “When you attach bigotry to debates of significant public importance, it’s very difficult to disentangle. And that’s a challenge for Facebook.”
Some of the anti-Muslim groups identified by SPLC and Muslim Advocates include some that have increasingly crept into the mainstream — and the White House. That includes Act for America (which has 160,000 followers on Facebook), whose representatives have described Islam as “a supremacist, totalitarian political ideology masquerading as a religion.” Former U.S. National Security Advisor Michael T. Flynn sat on Act for America’s board, and CIA Director and Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo received an award from the group.
Jihad Watch, with nearly 80,000 followers on Facebook, is run by anti-Islam activist Robert Spencer, who was banned by the UK Home Office, along with his colleague Pamela Geller, from traveling to the UK in 2013 for three to five years, on account of “making statements that may foster hatred that might lead to inter-community violence.” The newly minted National Security Advisor John Bolton wrote the foreword to a book co-authored by Spencer, published in 2010.
“What has happened is that there are groups that have promoted vicious falsehoods about gays or immigrants, for example, that aren’t true, suggesting gays are more likely to be pedophiles, or that there are intellectual disparities between races and ethnic groups,” said Levin. “And at the same time, they’re appearing on Capitol Hill, and that’s a problem.”
Read the complete article at “Facebook is letting white nationalist hate groups operate in the open.”