According to a stunning report from The Independent, Facebook is continuing to permit neo-Nazi groups to maintain active pages on the social media platform as they do not technically violate their community standards. Despite having been reported numerous times, pages for groups run by white supremacist organizations like Combat 18 and Misanthropic Division continue to be active. According to researchers at the Counter Extremism Project who compiled the exhaustive report on the proliferation of neo-Nazi pages on Facebook, after submitting multiple reports to the Facebook moderators over the offensive pages, they were told they should just unfollow the pages if they found them to be offensive. Facebook maintained that said pages wouldn’t be taken down.
That was the response the researchers got when they reported pages maintained by groups like Be Active Front USA, a racist skinhead group, as well as British Movement, a neo-Nazi group. A number of the pages that were reported — but have yet to be blocked or taken down — promote imagery of Adolf Hitler and fascist symbols, and refer to people of color as “vermin” and LGBTQ people as “degenerates.”
One page, maintained by the Greek wing of the neo-Nazi group Combat 18, features a cover photo of a man giving a Nazi salute in front of a wall spray-painted with a swastika. Another page maintained by Combat 18, for its Australian branch, appeared to complain that following the New Zealand mosque attacks, the “media and leftists would carry on for months,” while praising the ideology of the shooter. Combat 18 was formed in the U.K. as a street-fighting group, and has been implicated in a number of murders of immigrants and people of color. Other pages hawk neo-Nazi merchandise and sell music, generating a revenue stream for them.
Senior director of the Counter Extremism Project (CEP), Hans-Jakob Schindler, noted that Facebook and other platforms are permitting hate groups to “network and build echo chambers worldwide” without obstruction, simply due to the bottom line.
“Facebook services a third of the world’s population [2.32 billion monthly active users], it’s the biggest platform there is,” he said. “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.”
The CEP report came out just days after Facebook was widely criticized for failing to quickly take down the Christchurch shooter’s live video of the attack.
“In the west, we have right-wing nationalist extremist groups who feel encouraged at the moment to take action,” noted Schindler.
The alleged New Zealand shooter seemed to echo that statement in his manifesto, in which he wrote that he had gotten his views from “the internet, of course.”