After New Zealand mosque shootings and civil rights backlash, Facebook bans white nationalism, separatism

SAN FRANCISCO – Facebook is banning explicit praise, support or representation of white nationalism and white separatism on Facebook and Instagram, including phrases such as “I am a proud white nationalist,” following deadly attacks at two New Zealand mosques and a backlash from black history scholars and civil rights groups.

“Over the past three months, our conversations with members of civil society and academics who are experts in race relations around the world have confirmed that white nationalism and separatism cannot be meaningfully separated from white supremacy and organized hate groups,” Facebook said in a blog post Wednesday.

Users searching for white nationalism and separatism will be directed to resources that help people leave hate groups starting next week, the company said.

Explicit expressions of support for white supremacy are not permitted on Facebook. The decision to extend that ban to white nationalism and separatism addresses one of Facebook’s most controversial content moderation policies that control the speech of more than 2 billion users around the globe.

The social media company had previously defended the practice, saying it consulted researchers and academic experts in crafting a policy drawing a line between white supremacy and the belief that races should be separated. In training documents obtained by Vice’s Motherboard last year, Facebook said white nationalism “doesn’t seem to be always associated with racism (at least not explicitly).”

That position provoked a strong reaction from civil rights groups.

“By attempting to distinguish white supremacy from white nationalism and white separatism, Facebook ignores centuries of history, legal precedent, and expert scholarship that all establish that white nationalism and white separatism are white supremacy,” the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law wrote Facebook in September.

Facebook’s policy reversal marks a major step toward reckoning with the vast amount of white nationalist content that continues to fester on social media services.

With a growing number of populist movements gaining hold around the globe, technology companies have been reluctant to ban white nationalist content, wary of charges of censorship.

White nationalism hurtled back into the spotlight after a gunman opened fire at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 50 people. In a 74-page manifesto, he described himself as an “ordinary white man” whose goal was to “crush immigration and deport those invaders already living on our soil” and “ensure the existence of our people, and a future for white children.” He livestreamed the attack on Facebook.

“This is something that has been in the works for some time, but following the horrific attacks in New Zealand is more important than ever,” Facebook said in a statement.

Implicit or coded expressions of white nationalism and white separatism will not be banned right away as those are harder to detect, Facebook told Motherboard.

Rashad Robinson, president of the civil rights group Color of Change, called on other tech companies “to act urgently to stem the growth of white nationalist ideologies, which find space on platforms to spread the violent ideas and rhetoric that inspired the tragic attacks witnessed in Charlottesville, Pittsburgh and now Christchurch.”

The House Judiciary Committee plans to hold a hearing in early April on the rise of white nationalism. Researchers say that rise in attacks by white supremacists and anti-government extremists is being fueled by growing political polarization, anti-immigrant sentiment and the ease with which proponents can spread their beliefs over the internet.

A 2016 study from George Washington University’s Program on Extremism in D.C. found that white nationalists had seen their followers grow by more than 600 percent since 2012, outperforming the Islamic State in nearly every metric, from follower counts to tweets per day.

More: New Zealand mosque shootings: Are social media companies unwitting accomplices?

More: California mosque arson suspect left graffiti about New Zealand attack, police say

More: New Zealand debates free speech after ban of accused mosque shooter’s manifesto

In a tense political climate, hate speech – how to define it and how to root it out – has become a priority for Facebook, Twitter and Google’s YouTube. Facebook has taken steps to curb hate speech on its platforms using a combination of computer algorithms and thousands of moderators trained to scrub posts that violate the company’s rules.

After a 2017 white supremacist rally turned deadly in Charlottesville, Virginia, Facebook wrestled with how to police white supremacy on its platform, according to the documents leaked to Motherboard. Facebook stopped short of a policy prohibiting white nationalist or separatist content after expressing concern that such a ban would extend to black separatist groups, the Zionist movement and the Basque separatist movement.

After an outcry from civil rights groups, Facebook told Motherboard in September it was reviewing its policy on white nationalism and separatism.

Facebook said Wednesday it had considered “broader concepts of nationalism and separatism – things like American pride and Basque separatism, which are an important part of people’s identity.”

Content relating to separatist and nationalist movements such as the Basque separatist movement in France and Spain will still be allowed on Facebook.

“Going forward, while people will still be able to demonstrate pride in their ethnic heritage, we will not tolerate praise or support for white nationalism and separatism,” the company said.

Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said Facebook’s new policy is a “step forward in the fight against white supremacist movements,” But, she said, much work remains to be done.

“Putting in place the correct policy is a start, but Facebook also needs to enforce those policies consistently, provide meaningful transparency around any AI techniques used to address this problem, and adequately retrain its personnel. Without proper implementation, policies will prove to be just empty words, and white supremacy will continue to proliferate across its platform,” she said.

The West in Existential Crisis- The Mark Steyn Show with Douglas Murray

Vivian Bercovici: Critics of Trump’s Golan Heights order need to brush up on facts

Arwen~ Facts matter. 

“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.”

-Daniel Patrick Moynahan

For years, the West paid virtually no attention to this very real threat on Israel’s borders. Israel was never the aggressor

Israeli PM welcomes Trumps Golan Heights decision…1:20

June 5, 1967: Following two decades of Arab rejection of the newly established state of Israel, war erupts, again.

In a pre-emptive strike, Israel virtually destroys the entire Egyptian air force fleet, grounding it. This is in response to hardline Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser, at the time the undisputed leader of the Arab world, and his increasingly violent rhetoric pledging to destroy the Jewish state, backed up by military manoeuvres and buildups on the ground, and threats to cut off Israel’s maritime access to the Gulf of Aqaba, and the world.

The following day, Syria and Jordan attack Israel on the eastern and northern fronts. Both borders, particularly the short one with Syria, had bristled with tension from serial terrorist raids attacking Israeli civilians.

There was absolutely no question that Syria had attacked Israel

By any rational test, there was absolutely no question that Syria had attacked Israel. None. Unfortunately for Syria, within five days of its initial attack, the IDF not only repelled its forces but also captured the Golan Heights, an elevated plateau.

The area has little, if any, religious significance for anyone, was and remains sparsely populated (in ’73 by approximately 20,000 Syrian Druze), and Palestinians have never lived there, nor do they claim it as ancestral territory.

It also happens to be an enormously important strategic asset, from which Syrian soldiers used to shoot regularly at Israeli civilians in villages and farms below. More recently, the Golan Heights has abutted the scene of heavy fighting between the Syrian army, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which opposes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad), and ISIL.

Syrians protest on March 26, 2019, in the northern city of Aleppo, against the United States’ decision to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. George Ourfalian/AFP/Getty Images

Several years ago, when fighting raged along the Israeli-Syrian border, I had occasion to visit the area. One of my colleagues pointed to a rather unremarkable hill, approximately 500 metres from where we stood. It was a wind-scrubbed, sun-baked, desolate little bump, by Canadian standards. No village. Nothing.

A battle had been ongoing for weeks between FSA forces and ISIL, the latter having captured the hill and immediately planted their black flag at the top. Unknown numbers of fighters on both sides died in these battles.

As I looked through a super-powerful set of binoculars at the flag, within 60 seconds, the bare hilltop suddenly swarmed with more than 20 ISIL fighters. Many of them had binoculars, and were watching me watch them. We lay in the dirt, flak jackets and helmets on, and waited. One of the more seasoned members of our group warned that when ISIL feels “watched,” they fire. Fortunately, they did not on that day.

We lay in the dirt, flak jackets and helmets on, and waited

The West paid virtually no attention to this very real threat on Israel’s borders. Yet, the international media and political communities, having transformed into overnight military and legal experts, are now slamming Israel regarding the Golan Heights, for what they deem an affront to international law.

Perhaps they are a little rusty on the historical facts.

Six years after the 1967 war, Egypt and Syria launched a full-out military offensive (Jordan, wisely, chose to sit this round out). It also happened to be Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, when everything in the country shuts down.

A photo taken from the Syrian town Ain al-Tineh shows the Druze town of Majdal Shams in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights on March 26, 2019. Louai Beshara/AFP/Getty Images

The surprise attack put Israel in an existential situation for the first few days of the war. Of course, the Arab intention was to recapture territory lost in the 1967 war and, while they were at it, destroy the rest of Israel and repatriate the Palestinians.

Again, the IDF prevailed, maintaining control over the Sinai desert and the Golan Heights. In both wars, the Arab countries were very much the aggressors, bellicosely so — a critical point when it comes to considering international law.

Because international law, as understood since the Second World War in particular, denounces the situation where the aggressor occupies land in an armed conflict. There seems to be consensus that such situations violate our collective sense of decency and fairness. So, for example, the Iraqi attack on Kuwait was roundly abhorred by the international community. As was the Russian aggression vis-a-vis Crimea.

A portrait of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad stands near a sculpture in the Syrian town of Qunaitra, in the Golan Heights, on March 26, 2019. The writing in Arabic reads: “The Golan is ours.” Louai Beshara/AFP/Getty Images

These situations have been raised recently as being somehow corollary to the Golan. Which they are not. The truth is that international law is focused on the more usual paradigm, where the aggressor keeps the land. Israel is a singular case and the facts challenge the rather brittle thinking and “logic” that the international community is determined to apply in this context.

Had Crimea attacked Russia and lost territory, that would be analogous to the Israel-Syria-Golan situation. Had Kuwait attacked Iraq and lost territory, that would be analogous to the Golan situation.

Israel did not attack Syria. Indisputable historical fact.

Israel did not attack Syria. Indisputable historical fact

Often invoked to discredit Israeli claims to the Golan, United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, addressing the ceasefires of 1967 and 1973, respectively, do nothing of the sort.

As a matter of fact and law, neither resolution precludes the actions taken earlier this week by the United States and Israel. People can hate and vilify U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu all they want. This isn’t personal. It’s factual.

On Monday, during a ceremony at the White House, President Trump signed an Order proclaiming U.S. recognition of the Golan Heights as being part of Israeli sovereign territory, and specifying: “Any possible future peace agreement in the region must account for Israel’s need to protect itself from Syria and other regional threats.”

U.S. President Donald Trump holds up a signed Proclamation on the Golan Heights while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, centre, applauds at the White House on March 25, 2019. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

In response, Prime Minister Netanyahu expressed the profound appreciation of a nation, noting that Israel won the Golan Heights in just wars of self-defence.

“Your proclamation comes at a time when the Golan is more important than ever for our security,” he said, addressing Trump, “when Iran is trying to establish bases in Syria to strike at Israel. From across the border in Syria, Iran has launched drones into our airspace, missiles into our territory.”

There should not be a different standard of compliance with international law for Israel. Based on the reactions of many states to the American recognition Monday, including Canada’s, there is.

— Vivian Bercovici is Canada’s former ambassador to Israel. She lives in Tel Aviv.

Think for yourself

The “media” determines who is guilty before all the facts are in while whitewashing or ignoring other cases with the same human tragedy , if not worse. It is vile and disgusting how media’s 24/7 filling  of  airspace by opinion and not fact, creates a frenzy, (as it is intended to do) and always those in the wings waiting to capitalize on it.

Sheeple, people can be.. 

Think for yourself, don’t rush to judgement before all the facts are in. Know what you stand on and for..and why you do.   

Search out the truth for yourself…it is worth the effort to find. 

Martel speaks again

Just a musing which may have some weight: if the self proclaimed social justice warriors and progressives are so certain of their arguments why are they incapable of listening to an opposing point of view?

Of course in the current climate, such a musing would cost a university professor his or her job for having “triggered” the student body.

The Left Ruins Everything

From the Boy Scouts to literature, from the arts to universities: the left ruins everything it touches. Dennis Prager explains.

Liberal-dominated ethics committee shuts down opposition attempt for new SNC-Lavalin inquiry


This should have been an RCMP investigation all along…still should be. Liberals are entrusted to investigate Liberals…seriously? If we as Canadians, accept the very “liberal” appearance of corruption in our gov’t as the norm , and their outright smear and character assassination of credible people , then we have set the bar as low as it can go.  

Set a much higher standard Canada.

Trudeau must be kicked to the curb, Oct 21/19.

The Liberal-dominated House of Commons ethics committee shut down an attempt by opposition parties on Tuesday to launch a new inquiry into the SNC-Lavalin affair and allow former attorney-general Jody Wilson-Raybould another opportunity to testify about the fallout from the controversy.

Conservative and New Democrat MPs said the Trudeau government tried to silence Ms. Wilson-Raybould when the Liberals on the House of Commons justice committee closed down its inquiry into high-level political interference in the criminal prosecution of the Montreal engineering and construction giant.

But Liberal MPs on the ethics committee used their majority to defeat the bid, putting an end to any further parliamentary inquiry into attempts by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other top officials to shelve the fraud and bribery prosecution of SNC-Lavalin Group Inc.

At the ethics committee on Tuesday, the opposition wanted to call Ms. Wilson-Raybould, and former Treasury Board president Jane Philpott, who complained last week about “an attempt to shut down the story.”

Ms. Wilson-Raybould told the justice committee she faced “constant and sustained” pressure from the Prime Minister and other top aides to override federal prosecutors and grant a deferred prosecution agreement for SNC-Lavalin.

The motion for a new inquiry – from Conservative MP Peter Kent – would also have asked the Prime Minister to waive cabinet confidentiality and solicitor-client privilege for the period after Ms. Wilson-Raybould was demoted to veterans affairs minister in early January to her resignation from cabinet in mid-February.

“Canadians deserve to know the whole truth,” Mr. Kent said. “There remains many unanswered questions about the former attorney-general’s resignation from cabinet, the presentation she gave to cabinet after her resignation and the discussions she had after being replaced as attorney-general.”

NDP MP Tracey Ramsey supported the Conservatives’ call for an ethics inquiry, and accused the Liberals of “trying to silence” Ms. Wilson-Raybould and Ms. Philpott.

“At the heart of this is extensive lobbying from SNC to influence the Prime Minister … to intervene and go to the former attorney-general to pressure her to change her mind,” she said.

The opposition parties had counted on Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, who had supported a call for a public inquiry into the matter, to vote for the ethics committee to mount its own investigation.

However, Mr. Erskine-Smith said MPs should wait to see what further evidence Ms. Wilson-Raybould provides to the justice committee later this week. He also noted that Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion is investigating.

“The justice committee has been very clear. The study is done,” said Ms. Ramsey, who is vice-chair of the justice committee. “There have been multiple attempts to bring it back to the justice committee, but it has been downed by [Liberal] members of the justice committee.”

Ms. Wilson-Raybould plans to submit additional “relevant facts and evidence” to the justice committee this week that she says will back up her previous testimony about attempts by Mr. Trudeau and top aides to help SNC-Lavalin avoid a criminal trial.

She indicated she has documented evidence that will support her version of what happened between September and December, 2018, when she was attorney-general and justice minister.

“A request was made for ‘copies of text messages and e-mails’ that I referred to in my testimony on Feb. 27, 2019 … I will provide copies,” she wrote to the committee last week. “Related to these requests, I also have relevant facts and evidence in my possession that further clarify statements I made and elucidate the accuracy and nature of statements by witnesses in testimony that came after my committee appearance.”

The Prime Minister told reporters on Monday that another waiver of cabinet confidentiality and solicitor-client privilege for Ms. Wilson-Raybould is not necessary, saying the justice committee had a “full airing” of the matter.

The issue has dominated Parliament since The Globe and Mail reported on Feb. 7 that the Prime Minister’s Office pressed the former attorney-general to negotiate a settlement with SNC-Lavalin.

In the fallout from The Globe report, Ms. Wilson-Raybould and Ms. Philpott resigned from cabinet, and Gerald Butts stepped down as Mr. Trudeau’s principal secretary. On March 18, Michael Wernick retired as clerk of the Privy Council, saying he had lost the “trust and respect” of the opposition parties over his role in the SNC-Lavalin case.

One option that remains open to Ms. Wilson-Raybould is to raise a question of personal privilege to ask the House of Commons Speaker to allow her to speak. However, the Speaker could limit the time to 20 minutes.

“We know that those are not practical suggestions given the time limitation generally imposed by the Speaker. The ethics committee would have been a safe and a civil place for her to speak,” Mr. Kent said.

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