For immediate release | Thursday, March 28, 2019

ICYMI: Neo-Nazi Groups Allowed to Stay on Facebook Because They ‘Do Not Violate Community Standards’

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Media at CEP

Findings of New CEP Report Featured in International Media

(New York, N.Y.) – In its new report, The Extreme Right on Facebook, the Counter Extremism Project (CEP) documents Facebook’s failure to remove white supremacist and neo-Nazi pages that clearly violate its terms of service. CEP identified and monitored a small selection of 40 Facebook pages belonging to online stores that sell white supremacist clothing, music, or accessories, or white supremacist or neo-Nazi groups. After a period of two months, CEP reported the pages—only 35 of the 40 remained online—to Facebook and found that a mere four pages were removed.

The U.K.’s Independent and Italy’s La Repubblica covered the report’s findings extensively.​ Hans-Jakob Schindler, senior director of the Counter Extremism Project (CEP), told the Independent that Facebook and other platforms were allowing hate groups to “network and build echo chambers worldwide.”

“Facebook services a third of the world’s population [2.32 billion monthly active users], it’s the biggest platform there is,” he added. “But the company’s business model is content on the platform, not content off the platform, [so] unless there is clear, sustained public pressure on the right-wing extremism issue, we will not see significant progress.”

Said CEP Executive Director David Ibsen in La Repubblica (translated): “While many suspect this to be the case, our research provides definitive evidence that Facebook is failing to address white supremacism on their platform. The results, detailed in the report, are staggering.”

Following are excerpts from the Independent article:  

Neo-Nazi groups have been allowed to remain on Facebook because the social media giant found they did not violate its “community standards”, it has been revealed.

Pages operated by factions of international white supremacist organisations including Combat 18 and the Misanthropic Division were reported, but Facebook refused to remove the content and told researchers to unfollow pages if they found them “offensive”.

A Counter Extremism Project report, seen exclusively by The Independent, showed the same response was received for chapters of Be Active Front USA, a racist skinhead group, and the neo-Nazi British Movement.

Several of the pages unsuccessfully reported included racist and homophobic statements, such as calling non-whites “vermin” and gay people “degenerates”, images of Adolf Hitler and fascist symbols. Facebook refused to take down a page used by Combat 18’s Greek wing, despite its cover photo showing a man performing a Nazi salute, in front of a wall sprayed with a swastika.

The fresh controversy comes after Facebook was condemned for failing to stop the New Zealand attacker’s livestream until it was reported by police.

In addition to the Independent and La Repubblica, media coverage included Inquisitr, Inquirer.net, Il MattinoFossbytes, RightsInfo, Welingelichte Kringen, and Yabiladi.

To explore the CEP report, The Extreme Right on Facebook, please click here.