Since the Christchurch shooting, Facebook has scrambled to do damage control. The company has now banned white nationalism on its site — a policy that it doesn’t seem to be following —and began “exploring restrictions” for its live streaming feature.
Despite all these changes, a meeting with lawmakers always seemed inevitable. On April 9, House Democrats will question both Facebook and Google on hate crimes and the rise of white nationalism online.
In a press release, the House Judiciary Committee wrote:
Communities of color and religious minorities have long been subject to discrimination and have been targeted by groups who affiliate with ideologies of hate. White identity groups have a long history of oppressing racial and religious minorities and promote individual expressions of violence with the aim of preserving white racial and political hegemony. Social media platforms have served as world-wide conduits to spread vitriolic hate messages into every home and country.
Within the hearing, lawmakers plan to examine the impact of white nationalist groups and the spread of white identity ideology. Lawmakers also want to explore what social media companies can do to “stem white nationalist propaganda and hate speech online.”
It’s been long noted that social media platforms, in particular, can act as conduits for white supremacist ideology. By refusing to confront it directly, social media companies allow it to fester on their platforms.
The consequences of this are seen with Christchurch, where the shooter identified inspiration on YouTube and designed the attack to go viral.
In addition, the Washington Post noted a white nationalist group used Facebook to organize the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally, which left three people dead.
Facebook will be represented by public policy director Neil Potts, according to the Washington Post, while Google will be represented by Alexandira Walden, a counsel for free expression and human rights.
Representatives from other groups will testify, including the National Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Anti-Defamation League.
The hearing will begin next Tuesday at 9:00am. It will be live streamed here.