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Independent UK, March 24, 2019

Neo-Nazi groups have been allowed to remain on Facebook because the social media giant found they did not violate its “community standards”, it has been revealed.

Pages operated by factions of international white supremacist organisations including Combat 18 and the Misanthropic Division were reported, but Facebook refused to remove the content and told researchers to unfollow pages if they found them “offensive”.

A Counter Extremism Project report, seen exclusively by The Independent, showed the same response was received for chapters of Be Active Front USA, a racist skinhead group, and the neo-Nazi British Movement.

Several of the pages unsuccessfully reported included racist and homophobic statements, such as calling non-whites “vermin” and gay people “degenerates”, images of Adolf Hitler and fascist symbols.

Facebook refused to take down a page used by Combat 18’s Greek wing, despite its cover photo showing a man performing a Nazi salute, in front of a wall sprayed with a swastika.

Another page for Combat 18’s Australian faction complained that after the New Zealand terror attack, the “media and leftists would carry on for months”, while spreading the same ideology that inspired the shooter.

Originating in the UK as a neo-Nazi street-fighting group, Combat 18 has units in dozens of countries and has been suspected in the murders of immigrants and ethnic minorities.

Others pages left online were being used to sell neo-Nazi merchandise and music, which generates funding for extremists. 

Hans-Jakob Schindler, senior director of the Counter Extremism Project (CEP), said Facebook and other platforms were allowing hate groups to “network and build echo chambers worldwide”.

“Facebook services a third of the world’s population [2.32 billion monthly active users[, it’s the biggest platform there is,” he added.

“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.”

Mr Schindler called for legal regulation, as the British government prepares to publish a white paper on tackling “online harms”.

The fresh controversy comes after Facebook was condemned for failing to stop the New Zealand attacker’s livestream until it was reported by police.

Days later, The Independent revealed that anti-Islam group Britain First had set up three new pages a year after being banned for hate speech.

Mr Schindler said that although Facebook and other social media firms have dramatically improved their response to Isis propaganda and other Islamist material, the response to far-right extremism was lagging behind.

“Terrorism is terrorism, and Christchurch unfortunately proved our point that both sides of the equation are equally concerning and equally dangerous,” he warned. ...
Read full article at Independent UK