SWILLYCORN VALLEY, CALIFORNIA — This week, Facebook announced sweeping new policy changes in an effort to curb the use of their platform by purveyors of hate speech, issuing a permanent ban of white nationalist and white separatist content. This year, Republican Congressman Steve King of Iowa was stripped of all his committee assignments when during an interview he asked why the term “white nationalist” has a bad connotation. In 2018, the FBI reported that almost all of the domestic terror attacks were perpetrated by far right-wing groups.
Facebook’s policy shift is meant to stop groups dedicated to white nationalism and white separatism — also known as white supremacy groups — from recruiting with their platform. Sources this morning are reporting that just a few hours ago, Facebook’s ban on white nationalism brought down two pages.
“This morning, at approximately 3:15am, as President Trump was on another social media site using his Executive Time to troll a 19-year-old standup comic who made fun of him in a YouTube clip of his set, the official Facebook pages for Donald J. Trump and the White House were temporary unpublished,” Facebook’s CEO and head automaton Mark Zuckerberg announced in a blog post. “This was done erroneously, and we have restored the pages.”
Zuckerberg’s blog post says that “while the White House page and Trump’s personal page” have become “cesspools of lies and white nationalism,” it’s not his company’s policy, in general, to unpublish or ban heads of state.
“This is a tricky situation. Is Donald Trump a racist white nationalist reality-TV conman? Of course,” Zuckerberg writes. “But he’s also, somehow, beyond all logic and reason, the current President of the United States of America. So we kinda have to thread a needle, in terms of how much of his content we block or take down.”
Mr. Zuckerberg acknowledges that even if Facebook had kept Trump’s page and the White House page down, there would still be “lots and lots of racists” on his site.
“The question we are grappling with is how we respect free speech but also keep racism off,” Zuckerberg wrote. “One person suggested permabanning anyone who changed their middle name to ‘Benghazi’ on Facebook. Some others have suggested simply doing a search for people who have MAGA hats on in their profile, but our algorithm couldn’t distinguish between MAGA hats and klan hoods, despite the coloring differences, so we scrapped that idea.”
For now, the pages will stay published, and Zuckerberg has issued an apology to the White House.
“It’s not that there is an absolute ton of white nationalist rhetoric coming from those pages, it’s that we’re not sure how to handle one of our biggest, most racist trolls also happening to be the most powerful person in the free world,” Zuckerberg wrote. “But we are sorry if we hurt the president’s feelings, which we all know are his top priority to protect.”
Writer/comedian James Schlarmann is the founder of The Political Garbage Chute and his work has been featured on The Huffington Post. You can follow James on Facebook, Spotify, and Instagram, but not Twitter because they have a definition of hate speech that includes “calling Ann Coulter the C-word.”