Social media giant says platform can't be used to spread hate
Faith Goldy, who was supposed to speak at Wilfrid Laurier University but was interrupted by a fire alarm, speaks outside the university on Tuesday, March 20, 2018. Goldy has been banned from Facebook as part of the social media platform's rules on dangerous individuals and groups. (Hannah Yoon/The Canadian Press)
Facebook is banning far-right political commentator Faith Goldy, white nationalist crusader Kevin Goudreau and various extremist groups, the social media company said Monday.
The company said it has longstanding policies on extremist content and organized hate groups and is barring the individuals and organizations under its "Dangerous Individuals and Organizations" community standards policy.
Goldy's views have been described as far-right white nationalist. She was fired from Rebel Media in 2017 after taking part in a neo-Nazi podcast.
"Individuals and organizations who spread hate, attack, or call for the exclusion of others on the basis of who they are have no place on Facebook. That's why we have a policy on dangerous individuals and organizations, which states that we do not allow those who are engaged in offline 'organized hate' to have a presence on Facebook," reads a statement from Facebook.
"The individuals and organizations we have banned today violate this policy, and they will no longer be allowed a presence on our services. Our work against organized hate is ongoing and we will continue to review individuals, pages, groups and content against our community standards."
• Viral mosque shooting video raises questions about social media firms' responsibilities
• There are no far-right groups on Canada's terror watchlist. This expert says we need to talk about that
Facebook said the Canadian Nationalist Front, Aryan Strikeforce, Wolves of Odin and Soldiers of Odin (also known as Canadian Infidels) have also been banned from "having any further presence" on its services. The company said it also intends to remove content affiliated with those banned, including linked pages and groups.
The pages began to disappear from Facebook this morning.
Facebook works with various academics and organizations around the world to determine which ones are hate organizations.
Asked by CBC News for her reaction, Goldy sent an email citing her statement on Twitter about being banished from Facebook and Instagram.
"Our enemies are weak and terrified. They forget most revolutions were waged before social media!" she tweeted.
CBC News has contacted Twitter to ask if Goldy will also be banned from that platform, but has not yet heard back.
Last week, Goldy tweeted that she had been barred from the Airbnb home-sharing service.
A search for Kevin Goudreau on Facebook turns up this image. (CBC News)
Edmonton-based freelance journalist Bashir Mohamed, who writes about white supremacy and the Ku Klux Klan in Canada, applauds Facebook's move but said he wishes it had happened sooner.
"I would have hoped that it would have been done sooner," Bashir said. "There's this idea that she became white supremacist in 2017 after Charlottesville, but if you look at her articles it goes back to 2015 where she is actually talking about white-supremacist ideals like white genocide."
Goldy failed in her bid to become Toronto's mayor in last year's mayoral race.
'No place' for divisive statements
Minister of Democratic Institutions Karina Gould said racist and violent views should not be tolerated on social media platforms.
"There is no place in Canada for these kinds of divisive societal statements," she said. "We are pleased that Facebook has made this decision and would hope that other platforms would look to Facebook's actions."
NDP MP Nathan Cullen called Facebook's move a "one-off" that targeted particularly hateful and high profile groups and individuals.
"We think that's progress, but it's inconsistent. Without any set of guidelines or rules, then we're allowing self-regulation," he said. "We're allowing Facebook and Google to decide when and where and who."
The Canadian Anti-Hate Network called the targets of today's bans the "tip of the iceberg." It said that groups which have made even worse comments remain on Facebook.
"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," reads a statement from executive director Evan Balgord. "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."
Asked whether it would be looking at banning other groups, such as Yellow Vests Canada, Facebook told CBC the work of determining whether posted content violates the platform's policy on extremism is "ongoing."
Funds for alt-right research
Last month, the Liberal government announced a special fund for research into right-wing extremism. Through it, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology got a three-year grant of $366,985 to conduct interviews with law enforcement, community anti-hate activists and former and current extremists to gain a better understanding of the beliefs, motivations and activities of extremists.
The U.K. announced plans today to fine or block internet sites that fail to stop online hate, terrorist propaganda or child abuse.
Under the plan, a new watchdog will be appointed to establish a new regulatory regime to stop revenge pornography, hate crimes, harassment and the sale of illegal goods, as well as other "harmful behaviour" such as cyber-bullying and spreading fake news.
With files from the CBC's David Thurton