Facebook's white nationalist content ban will push hate 'underground' - Free Speech Coalition

Banning white nationalist and separatist content on Facebook will push hate underground, the Free Speech Coalition says.

Facebook announced plans to ban the content on Thursday, saying it was connected to white supremacy, which was already banned.

The Free Speech Coalition's David Cumin told Newshub Facebook can do what it wants as it's a private company, as long as the Government does not get involved.

But he believes banning the content from the platform will drive white supremacy underground and make it harder to monitor.

"We've already seen what happened in 4chan and 8chan and private messaging apps that both the right wing and the Islamic extremists are using.

"Of course it's going to drive it underground, of course it is. There's no doubt about that and that's another reason to have it open."

Cumin says the best way to combat white supremacy is to counter it, and this is impossible without knowing who its believers are.

But now groups will use different platforms and stay in the shadows, away from prying eyes.

"We've seen groups go from totally open discussion boards to private Facebook groups, to WhatsApp channels to all sorts of things.

"So I don't think that it's going to remain stagnant in the one place and be able to be monitored entirely by a couple of people."

Massey University Professor Dr Paul Spoonley had a different view, telling Newshub on Thursday the ban would be a major road block for hate speech.

"It really does undermine the ability of far right groups to circulate material and to network."

He said Facebook is often exploited by white supremacist groups, to compare strategies and notes.

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Following the attack, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said there needs to be a change in the content shared on Facebook.

"These are actually fairly black and white issues when you think about it, the availability of violent and extremist online content in any form," she told The AM Show on Wednesday.

"It's not an issue here in this realm of free speech. I think people would agree that some of the content we're talking about are the kinds of content that just shouldn't be available."


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