Why Facebook and Instagram are banning white nationalism and white separatism, and why some think it's a problem

Return To Article

Commenting has temporarily been suspended in preparation for our new website launch, which is planned for the week of August 12th. When the new site goes live, we will also launch our new commenting platform. Thank you for your patience while we make these changes.

  • RiDal Sandy, UT
    April 11, 2019 10:56 a.m.

    Think about this: Why would any presume to think that White Supremacy is an idea that must be banned?
    Unless it is associated with direct calls for violence, it is a legitimate idea. You may disagree with the idea and try to discredit it with your own free speech, but an attempt to ban the mere expression if the idea is the very definition of "thought policing" and "imposing your own morality on others". Any mention of pride in White or caucasian or European pride and superiority is automatically labelled as "hateful". It is not necessarily that way. Just imagine if there was a "White Miss America" or a "White Entertainment Television" or if NBC News had a special "NBC-WHT" section. We are all just tired of the differential in treatment and the race-baiting that is tolerated against one group only.

  • TheRealDJT Sandy, UT
    April 11, 2019 7:12 a.m.

    The blueprint for a Big Brother that exercises thought control over the masses through language control was written by Orwell in "1984".
    Most average American who read it are revulsed and appalled at the dystopian future it described.

    But when the leaders of the silicon valley social media companies read it, their thought was a joyous: "Hey, we can really make this work!"

  • RiDal Sandy, UT
    April 11, 2019 7:03 a.m.

    Nobody really supports "White Supremacy" or "hate speech".
    The problem, as Facebook, twitter, and numerous other discussion formats have proven, is that they create their own definitions that are inherently ideologically biased.
    Any criticism of White people, or Christianity, or Trump, is "free speech"...right?

    But any criticism of LGBTQ+ , or Islam, or abortion is "hate speech" and "spreading fake news"...right?

  • Mainly Me Werribee, 00
    April 11, 2019 4:06 a.m.

    Here we go; the guardians of liberal bias and formers of opinions strike again. I don't necessarily agree with these movements, but there are many groups labeled as hate groups that are nothing of the kind.

  • T-money$$$ Salt Lake City, UT
    April 2, 2019 10:26 a.m.

    Fascinating and informative article. Kudos to the DN team for doing their research. As AI technologies continue to evolve, I suspect we will start to see more and more examples of technology intersecting with sociological, cultural and ethical issues.

  • dave_slc Salt Lake City, UT
    April 1, 2019 12:50 p.m.

    What I find interesting is that conservatives, who disavow they are racist/white supremacist/etc, say the effect of this ban will cause an anti-conservative bias. If conservatives are truly not racists, as they claim, then this ban should have absolutely no effect on them. I suspect what they "claim" and what is true are two entirely different things, however.

  • JSB , 00
    March 30, 2019 10:03 a.m.

    Re: "white separatism [is] a form of white supremacy that emphasizes the idea that white people should exist separately from all inferior, non-white races, whether by establishing an all-white community somewhere or removing non-whites from their midst.”

    Through my life I have lived in communities and situations with people of many different races and it has just enriched my experience. But maybe I am a separatist in some ways. I would not like to live in a neighborhood with people who are crude, vulgar and profane. Or in a neighborhood/community where there were people who were dishonest, untrustworthy, and participated in criminal behavior. Nor would I want to have neighbors who were mean and neglectful to their children and where the parents were unfaithful to each other. I would not like to live in a neighborhood in which there were people who are sympathetic to Nazis, abortion, sexual abuse, and other sex perversions.

    Does this make me a separatist?

  • silo Sandy, UT
    March 30, 2019 12:57 a.m.

    "Nice try. Facebook is very much public company since the "went public" years ago. Liberals.....smh"

    Nice try.

    Going public has nothing to do with whether they are a private company. Nor does it have anything to do with liberals.


  • rexwhitmer , 00
    March 29, 2019 4:14 p.m.

    Remember the days when President Trump was campaigning? The Liberal element, the same element making this objection, did their best to drown out Trump's comments. Perhaps it would be even wiser to investigate the complainer and his or her motive. If a person makes a lying statement about another or another group, then that person can be subject to correction of one sort or another. Defamation is never pretty, and should end up with the defamer being forced to suffer for his or her words, if they are untrue. No behaviors are solely belonging to any one race, so accusing a person because of his or her race, is lying. Lying can be and should be considered wrong and the liar should be punished. BUT, as with the defamed, not every person of any race has the same feelings! SO, punishing a person of one race, for the comments of a person of another race, should never apply to all members of another race. OUR RACE IS HUMAN KIND, we are of several colors, but all HUMAN!

  • Happy Valley Hillbilly Alpine, UT
    March 29, 2019 3:58 p.m.

    I canceled my Facebook account years ago and never regretted it. This ridiculous pc nonsense is only one of a myriad of reasons why.

  • EscherEnigma Ridgecrest, CA
    March 29, 2019 2:16 p.m.

    @2 bits
    "It's not a freedom of speech issue. It is a fairness issue. If they block some groups of extremists they should be consistent and block others (when they try to put hate-speech on Facebook)."
    Are you really arguing that it's "unfair" to look at the actions promoted and supported by an ideological group when considering whether that ideology is one you allow on your platform?

    I mean face it, "X is better then Y!" might sound the same as "A is better then B!", but if there's a whole mess of As murdering Bs while reciting that, and not a corresponding group of Xs murdering Ys while reciting that, it's not unfair to treat the two slogans differently.

  • Harrison Bergeron Salt Lake City, UT
    March 29, 2019 12:42 p.m.

    Facebook is a private company; they can ban anyone for any reason. And it will be good for conservatives to have a tiny minority of losers out of the public eye so they don't keep getting so much undeserved attention.

    "Facebook will still allow content relating to black separatist movements..."

    Hey let's combat racism by being racist! Is just so hypocritical it's funny. But I'm perfectly fine with Black Lives Matter, Black Panthers and Louis Farrakhan representing liberals.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 29, 2019 12:38 p.m.

    RE: "Problem is we think banning them will make them go away"...
    Haven't seen anybody actually say, "banning them will make them go away".

    Maybe you're Assuming that's what we think.

    I know it won't make them go away. They were around before Facebook existed. So pretty sure Facebook banning them isn't going to make them go away.

    Facebook is not obligated to help distribute their message.


    RE: "Until they show up again, and again, getting stronger and more popular with each iteration"...
    Actually they're not growing. They're just getting more media attention now. White Nationalists are actually a very small minority of our population, as are Black Nationalists. Even a tiny minority of Republicans (less than 3% of Republicans identify as "White Supremacists").

    Google "Are White Republicans More Racist Than White Democrats"...


    RE: "You've got to be willing to fight their ideas"...
    That's where you may cross the line of infringing on their "Free Speech Rights".

    Fight them by making your own speech. But don't go to the public square with pitch forks/guns to fight them or shut them up. That clearly violates their constitutional rights.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 29, 2019 12:18 p.m.

    @SG in SLC.
    Your comment wasn't posted when I wrote mine. But no problem. We are saying the same thing. The company is still a private company (private sector) even though they went public, and started selling stock. They can ban me or my account or my words if they want, or any other person or group.

    "Freedom of speech" means you have the right to get your soap=box and stand on the corner and say anything you want. Even if it's disparaging the government or someone in the government. And they can't throw you in jail or force you to shut up,

    "Freedom of speech" does not mean CNN or Facebook, or Instagram, or any other company has to broadcast or even allow what I'm saying to be propagated using their services if they don't want to.

    So no problem with Facebook or anybody doing this. It's not a violation of anybody's Free Speech rights.

    Skin heads, NeoNazis, PETA, ANTIFA, BLM, Black Panthers, Muslim Brotherhood, SDS, WeatherUnderground, etc, can go to the city square and say what they want, and we can't stop them (that's "Freecom of Speech"). But Facebook doesn't have to allow them to use their services.

  • jeclar2006 Oceanside, CA
    March 29, 2019 12:12 p.m.

    Tekakaromatagi - Dammam, Saudi Arabia
    My concern is that they will end up banning conservative or liberal viewpoints simply because they don't coincide with political correctness. (And yes, 'liberal' is different than 'political correctness' because liberal is based on principles and logic and PC is based on dogma.)

    This site, Deseret News, a private business entity, has the right to publish comments or not, based on a criteria developed by the editorial staff.

    Deseret News may 'slant' their editorial criteria in favor of 'conservative' or 'religious based' principles.

    Why should Facebook, another private business be limited in the criteria they may develop as what is allowable or not on their services provided to the public.

    In my experience of Facebook, those that claim to be 'conservatives', who complain about being placed in 'jail', that is unable to post for a temporary period, are the ones who often use barnyard epithets in regard to 'non-whites', or post patent lies and/or offensive photos, by any standard.

    Those conservatives who don't use offensive language, or pictures/memes, have not complained about being jailed.

  • MGoodwin Murray/USA, UT
    March 29, 2019 11:43 a.m.

    So is Facebook a platform or a publisher? I'm sure some lawyers are chomping at the bit for them to lose that nice platform protection, but I suppose that's a question for more knowledgeable people than me.

    Problem is we think banning them will make them go away. It won't, they'll slink away out of sight, festering out of sight and out of mind until they show up again, and again, getting stronger and more popular with each iteration.

    If we want to get rid of them you've got to be willing to fight their ideas, and I don't think people are, not the real ideas, we're just good at shouting cheap slogans at them which is the mental equivalent of trying to take on a tank with a plastic spork.

  • SG in SLC Salt Lake City, UT
    March 29, 2019 11:08 a.m.

    @2 bits (10:33 a.m.),

    I'm pretty sure you just reiterated what I said about a half-hour earlier.

    A little redundant, perhaps; but, repetition of the truth is never a bad thing.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 29, 2019 10:33 a.m.

    rickmac37 9:06
    RE: "They actually aren’t a private business they went public a few yrs ago. So know your facts before you comment"...
    I think they were differentiating between Government/Public entities (which can't discriminate) and Private, which can discriminate if they want.

    "Going Public"... or having your stock traded on the stock exchange does not make you a public/government entity.

    Whether a company is privately owned, or owned by stock holders... it's still in the Private Sector. I think that's what they were getting at.

    Government entities can't discriminate. Private Sector can. Whether they are owned by a group of stock holders, or one family. Facebook is still Private Sector, not Public/Gov sector.

    Saying, they "Went public" (allowed shares to be sold)... does not make them a government entity. They are still in the private sector. I think that's the difference they were pointing out.

    They are still in the private sector.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 29, 2019 10:18 a.m.

    I'm OK with Facebook doing this. Freedom of speech means you have the right to say whatever you want. It doesn't mean Facebook or any TV Network or anybody has to help you distribute it.

    They don't have to distribute what any group has to say to their subscribers. No matter what side of the spectrum they are on. It's up to Facebook.

    It's not a freedom of speech issue. It is a fairness issue. If they block some groups of extremists they should be consistent and block others (when they try to put hate-speech on Facebook). But they don't have to. It's their business. They don't have to distribute anything they don't want to. Especially if there's a good reason to not distribute it. And there is in this case.

    I just hope they have the courage to do the same thing when ANTIFA radicals put hate-speech on Facebook.

  • KSM's Dad Ogden, UT
    March 29, 2019 10:04 a.m.

    " Blacknesss is not an ethnicity, it is a skin color. And America is a multicultural society. Black Lives Matter is simply a form of black supremacy. It is in an ideology centered on hate. "

    See how this works?

  • Dal Pal Rexburg, ID
    March 29, 2019 10:02 a.m.

    Facebook stinks, white nationalism stinks, moral of the story, delete your facebook account and don't be a white supremacist. That's the reasonable thing to do.

  • SG in SLC Salt Lake City, UT
    March 29, 2019 9:59 a.m.

    @USAlover & rickmac37,

    Privately held company vs. publicly traded company ≠ private sector company vs. public sector company. "Going public" means that a corporation whose stock is held by the company's founders and management has decided to open up ownership of their stock to anyone who wants to buy it on a stock exchange.

    Google "Private vs. Public Company: What's the Difference? - Investopedia".

    Uber is a privately held, private sector company.
    Facebook is a publicly traded, private sector company.
    AmeriCorps is a government-owned, public sector company.

    Or in other words, a publicly traded company (i.e., Facebook) is still a private sector business, so Kalinda was absolutely correct.

    The First Amendment right to Freedom of Speech doesn't apply to private sector businesses (even "publicly traded" ones, like FB), it restricts the ability of government (i.e., the "public sector") to control U.S. citizens' "speech" (including written and symbolic "speech").

    You can shake your head at liberals all you want, but the truth is, you just got a civics/business lesson from one...

  • AlagnakLounger Heber City, UT
    March 29, 2019 9:51 a.m.

    As a conservative, straight, white, male, I deplore "white nationalism," white separatism," and "white supremacy;" just as I reject and deplore all forms of hate and bigotry. However, the rise of these pernicious evils has been very predictable. Rather than moving toward a society that sees people for 'the content of their character and not the color of their skin,' we've separated by "identity groups." You cannot put people in identity groups and then try to intersect those groups for your own political power or ideological advancement and not expect this some sort of reaction.

    While I understand the visceral reaction to the rise of such speech and the desire to ban it from the public square, I worry about the slippery slope. We used to allow neo-nazis permits to march or protest, not because we agreed with their idiotic rhetoric, but because not allowing them that right, the right of free speech, was seen by the left and right as worse. In fact, I think their silly marches only hurt their cause. I worry than banning them, or any other group, will only fuel the fire. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. However, it may not help with the disease of social media itself.

  • rickmac37 , 00
    March 29, 2019 9:06 a.m.

    They actually aren’t a private business they went public a few yrs ago. So know your facts before you comment

  • JLindow St. George, UT
    March 29, 2019 8:47 a.m.

    If you are a white nationalist and feel marginalized by Facebook, too bad. They are a private company and are not obligated to provide a platform for you to spread your harmful and misguided beliefs.

  • DN Subscriber Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 29, 2019 8:24 a.m.

    The devil is in the details of defining what is to be banned, and interpreting those rules. Then, how the "watchers" will react when someone is "offended" by something else and demands that it too be banned, just because it is not politically correct.

    We have already seen widespread efforts to shut down free speech by moderate, mainstream conservatives, not just extremist groups espousing violence. But, at the same time the moderators of social media and the news turn a blind eye and deaf ear to outrageous speech or actions from radical leftist groups, or certain religious or racial groups which advocate violence and supremacy for their followers.

    It is easy to understand why some people are fearful that this will be used as a cudgel to bludgeon anyone not part of the left's favored constituencies. All in the name of "fairness" and "equality" and "safety," of course.

  • Thomas Jefferson Salt Lake City, UT
    March 29, 2019 8:17 a.m.

    BradJames - Manti, UT

    "I think everyone should have a problem with this myself. I don't understand the direction this society is going. We've lost our way."

    Well you have made quite a strong case there...oh wait. You didnt make a case at all.
    Next time try to write down WHY you think that.

  • RiDal Sandy, UT
    March 29, 2019 7:54 a.m.

    This assumption of the power to decide what is “praise, support and representation” of "White Nationalism" is appalling!
    Is Orwell's 1984 not still required reading in schools ?!?!

    This is exactly what he was trying to warn us about.
    "IngSoc" and Big Brother will never admit that they are "trying to control your mind". They will always claim that they are "fighting evil". That's the whole point!

    Facebook executives have already had to admit that their content has discriminated against conservative opinions. This just give yet another pretext to push a Leftist agenda.
    Stop to realize: This the the real "collusion with socialist powers to influence our elections."

  • USAlover Salt Lake City, UT
    March 29, 2019 7:47 a.m.

    @Kalinda "They are private businesses - they get to set rules for their services."

    Nice try. Facebook is very much public company since the "went public" years ago.


  • Den Den West Jordan, UT
    March 29, 2019 7:29 a.m.

    Some of the most vile and vicious hate speech is directed toward the President of the United States of America, Donald Trump. And as long as facebook and instagram think it's ok, nothing will be done about it and they will allow it.

    Private company or not, it's a double standard.

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    March 29, 2019 5:59 a.m.

    Private business, don't like it, make your own HateBook program and fill it with like minded backsliding ideas.

    I would appreciate it personally so that I don't have to read racist, bigoted remarks and memes from far right groups who think they are clever, they are simpletons.

    This isn't because I think the world should be all peace and twinkies, but because race supremacy is taught, and why give hate a platform to convert more folks to bad ideas.

    The DNews censors what they consider offensive, every hour in these comments it's their platform their business. Those who think that facebook or any other app is obligated to "their free speech" doesn't understand freedom at all.

    Seem odd that conservatives are immediately concerned that they will get caught in a "racist trap" you know like a "perjury trap."

  • tsobserver Mapleton, UT
    March 29, 2019 5:45 a.m.

    It's the politically and socially easy thing to do. It takes no courage to do it. Let's see if they have the courage to ban all speech that promotes any racial or religious superiority and hate toward other racial or religious groups. I won't hold my breath.

  • Zabilde Riverdale, UT
    March 29, 2019 5:25 a.m.

    While it's not a 1st Amendment issue, one has to ask is this actually good? One should always hesitate to silence any speech just because we disagree with it. If it's inciting violence that is criminal and should be blocked or removed. But all should be able to express their views. Silencing those you disagree with sounds like a good idea, until your beliefs are redefined to equate to hate speech.

    And then there is the issue of equal treatment. Go ahead block and ban these groups. But Apply the rule equally across the board. BLM, Anti-Fa, the Southern Poverty Law Center, La Raza and so on.

    Just the other day it came out that a hacker successfully hacked 120 known ISIS twitter accounts. Excuse me how does ISIS have even one known twitter account.

    I would prefer that no groups or pages be banned or blocked until they actually incite violence or other criminal acts. But if Facebook and other social media are going to do this they need to apply it equally. No, one group's historical actions do not make it worse than a newer group. Racist hate is racist hate, and people of all races can be hate-filled racists.

  • Tekakaromatagi Dammam, Saudi Arabia
    March 28, 2019 10:08 p.m.

    How do you define white nationalism or white separatism?

    In terms of defining 'hate' and 'discrimination', some segments of society apply very broad definitions in some contexts and the rest of us are left wondering where is their evidence. E.g. Southern Poverty Law Center's list of hate groups.

    My concern is that they will end up banning conservative or liberal viewpoints simply because they don't coincide with political correctness. (And yes, 'liberal' is different than 'political correctness' because liberal is based on principles and logic and PC is based on dogma.)

  • Kalindra Salt Lake City, Utah
    March 28, 2019 9:46 p.m.

    They are private businesses - they get to set rules for their services.

  • BradJames Manti, UT
    March 28, 2019 8:54 p.m.

    I think everyone should have a problem with this myself. I don't understand the direction this society is going. We've lost our way.