FILE PHOTO: A Facebook logo is displayed on a smartphone in this illustration
FILE PHOTO: A Facebook logo is displayed on a smartphone in this illustration

Facebook removes network of white supremacist accounts

By Kurt Wagner Time of article published Mar 26, 2020

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INTERNATIONAL - Facebook Inc. has removed dozens of user accounts plus other Pages and Groups on its social network associated with the Northwest Front, a group pushing for a white nation-state in the U.S. Pacific Northwest.

The company doesn’t allow groups that “proclaim hateful and violent missions,” according to a statement on Wednesday from Brian Fishman, Facebook’s policy director for counter-terrorism and dangerous organizations.

The removal included 36 Facebook accounts, 10 Instagram accounts, nine private groups and nine Pages, according to a company spokeswoman. Menlo Park, California-based Facebook had previously banned the organization and removed accounts from its members in 2015, but many of them created new accounts under pseudonyms, the company said.

Facebook’s content review processes have been under some strain as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak. The company has been working to combat misinformation about the disease caused by the coronavirus, taking up resources typically focused on other issues. Facebook employees and content reviewers also are working remotely. Many of the content reviewers are contractors, which means they are unable to access Facebook’s systems from home, Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said last week.

The Facebook team that oversees content and policies related to dangerous groups is about 350 people inside Facebook, and almost all are still working, Fishman said in an interview. He said the company was publicizing the removals connected to the Northwest Front “to illustrate both to users and the broader community that has questions about this, but also to bad actors, that enforcement in this space continues.”

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