Social media sites including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have long been aware of the increasing presence of white nationalism on their platforms. It's time to do more to tackle it—or risk being complicit in hateful ideologyby Tola Onanuga / May 10, 2019 / Leave a comment
White nationalism is thriving online and social media sites have failed to take the problem seriously. Whether its Tommy Robinson whipping up hatred towards Muslims or lesser-known commentators inciting hatred against equality campaigners, the situation has reached a tipping point.
Most white nationalists have links to the far right and claim their mission is to ensure the survival and prosperity of the white race. In the UK, figures show that extreme far-right activity is increasing, particularly online. According to the BBC referrals to Prevent, which forms part of the government’s counter-terrorism strategy, rose by 36 per cent in 2017-18.
As Joe Mulhall, a senior researcher at UK-based campaign group HOPE not hate, explains: “White nationalism and the far-right continue to pose a threat to society. By definition, this usually means a belief in nationalism (exceptionalism) of either a race or country rather than mere patriotism. Coupled with this is a belief that the nation (either geographic or racial) is in decay or crisis and radical action is required to halt or reverse it.”
He pointed to the Christchurch attacks as one way that white nationalism manifests itself offline, but added: “At the less extreme end, this threat manifests at a community and street level, such a hate crime, or at a political level with unfair or racist legislative agendas that oppress minority communities.”
White nationalist groups appear to be highly effective at organising themselves on social media in order to promote their ideas. US-based organisation the Southern Poverty Law Centre calculated that the number of white nationalist groups increased by almost 50 per cent in 2018. It has categorised many of these collectives as hate groups —yet people are joining them in record numbers.
Social media sites including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have long been aware of the increasing presence of white nationalism on their platforms but appear reluctant to clamp down on it. In March, Facebook made the first meaningful attempt to tackle the issue by announcing a ban on white nationalist content.
The move has been praised in many quarters as a positive step, although doubts remain about whether the ban will be effective in the long term. Around the time that the ban was announced, the company’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, wrote on…