The “Canadian Anti-Hate Network”, a group that campaigned for the successful removal of once-Toronto mayoral candidate Faith Goldy from Facebook, gathered a lot of support from left-leaning individuals, with the discussion slowly shifting towards pointing to groups like Yellow Vests as targets for the ban hammer.
The Yellow Vest group are a group that originated in France, motivated by rising fuel prices, the high cost of living, and claims that a disproportionate burden of the government’s tax reforms were falling on the working and middle classes.
In a statement on Facebook, the Canadian Anti-Hate Network said:
“Next we are calling on Facebook to remove the Yellow Vests Canada page, which shares hundreds of examples of overt racism, death threats and white nationalist sentiment…We are still calling on government to enforce the Canadian Human Rights Act against social media companies, which are providing their services in a discriminatory manner.”
On March 27, 2019, Facebook’s blog was furnished with a new post saying that they will start cracking down on white nationalist and hate speech starting next week. The company states that they do not want their platform to be a place where hate speech is freely employed as a form of communication. The post was warmly welcomed by liberals but was criticized by many conservatives and free speech supporters.
It seems like their decision turned into action. The first head on the chopping block belongs to Faith Goldy whose ideology has been subjected to heavy mainstream criticism. She was deplatformed by Facebook and Instagram on April 8, 2019. The bans are targeting Canadian leaders like Faith Goldy whose association with identitarian-style politics has been heavily documented. She had a decent following on YouTube and Facebook with 97K subscribers and 33K followers respectively.
The company decided to ban several nationalist groups including the Canadian Nationalist Front (Kevin Goudreau) and Soldiers of Odin. Facebook implied in their blog post that its efforts to ban white supremacists and nationalists would continue as the company aims to be a better platform for non-confrontational communication.
Twitter, Facebook, and Google have to deal with controversial content somehow to retain advertisers and attract more companies willing to pay for commercials on their platforms. Facebook’s representatives made promises to deal with white nationalists before, but this time they are acting on their words.
While some call these actions an appropriate response to white nationalists, others are criticizing the social network for excessive speech policing. Arguments can be made for both sides of this discussion. Facebook is a privately held business meaning that they can do whatever they want on their platform. However, it is disturbing that only right-leaning extremists are being targeted by moderation.