The violent protests that were witnessed in Charlottesville, Virginia will not change the way social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook handle racist or extremist commentary. The two social media firms have indicated that they will not be changing the user guidelines as well as their safety policies. This is in contrast to what webhosting firm GoDaddy and a tech company such as Airbnb have done.
In the violent clashes between protestors and white supremacists, one of the protestors died when a car being driven at high speed by a Nazi sympathizer plowed into the crowd. Dozens of others were injured, some of them severely. On Monday the Attorney General of the United States, Jeff Sessions, described the actions of the Nazi sympathizer as an act of ‘domestic terrorism’.
In the case of GoDaddy, the webhosting firm banned a domain belonging to The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi site. The site then transferred to Google but the online search giant took a similar action. Airbnb on the other hand dropped accounts of the Virginia rally attendees.
But while Twitter and Facebook have indicated that they are not changing their terms of service, Facebook has revealed that it is taking down posts that glorify violence especially in the Charlottesville incident. Both social platforms are against hate groups with Twitter specifically stating an account stands to be banned if it exhibits behavior that incites or promotes violence or attacks on other people based on various identities such as race, nationality or gender.
Condemnation of fascism
But while Facebook is not taking any explicit action against the activities of the white nationalist movement since they will still be allowed to operate on the platform, its executives have been at the forefront of condemning intolerance and fascism.
“Every generation has to be vigilant in fighting against the type of bigotry and hatred that was displayed by the white supremacists in Charlottesville. Along with millions of others, I was so heartbroken this weekend,” the chief operating officer of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, wrote earlier this week.
Facebook and Twitter have both come under attack for offering platforms for hate groups and hate speech and for being slow to act even when alerted. A page which coordinated the white supremacist rally in Charlotte was only taken down by Facebook after being in existence for more than a month. The European Commission has also criticized Twitter for failing to meet EU standards with regards to taking down hate speech.