Facebook and Instagram: Still allowing groups to sell hate on their platforms?

August 3, 2018

The social media sites, Facebook and Instagram, are enabling neo-Nazis and white supremacists to profit off their platforms. The co-owned sites are letting hate groups promote a Holocaust-denial magazine and sell merchandise, such as children’s tee-shirts with slogans saying, “White baby – the future of our race,” according to an August 2 report by the Huffington Post.

Last month, Facebook removed White Rex, a Russian-owned neo-Nazi clothing company, from its site after the HuffPost reported on the company. But at least three other brands—including Sva Stone, Ansgar Aryan and Pride France—still maintain Facebook pages. And White Rex remains posted on the Facebook subsidiary site, Instagram.

According to HuffPost, “The proliferation of white supremacist businesses on Facebook is more evidence of the social media giant’s inability to rein in radicalism and hate on its platform. Some of the clothing brand pages HuffPost identified have also been suspended or banned in the past—demonstrating the shortcomings of Facebook’s whack-a-mole approach to extremism.”

The clothing labels routinely use variations of well-known Nazi symbols and coded references in their products and Facebook posts; but generally shy away from direct calls to violence or explicitly hateful rhetoric, HuffPost reported, noting, “Their support of white supremacy, however, is obvious after even a brief scroll through these pages.”

A post from Sva Stone’s Facebook page shows a man modeling one of its Nazi-inspired T-shirts while holding a gun.

However, in an interview with Kara Swisher of Recode last month, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg used Holocaust denial as an example of the kind of speech the company shouldn’t take down because it is “hard to impugn intent and to understand the intent.” After Jewish groups and anti-discrimination groups criticized his statement, he apologized.

The German brand Ansgar Aryan, which has more than 16,000 Facebook followers, uses a thinly veiled HH symbol as one of its logos and repeatedly refers to the number 88, HuffPost says. Both are common references among neo-Nazis to the phrase “Heil Hitler.” Another shirt features a hooded Klansman holding a rifle with the slogan “We want you to enlist today.”

Sva Stone is owned by a prominent Ukranian neo-Nazi named Arseniy Bilodub. It has more than 20,000 followers on Instagram and around 7,000 on Facebook. Sva Stone’s clothing includes symbols that mimic the Nazi SS logo and feature modified swastikas. It also makes a line of T-shirts with its swastika-like logo and the slogans “white boy,” “white girl” and a children’s size “white baby.”

“Generally, it’s worn by neo-Nazis around Eastern Europe,” said Pavel Klymenko, a monitor of extremism and a researcher at the FARE Network, an organization that tracks far-right hooliganism and discrimination in soccer.cribe to The Morning Email.

Facebook is having one of its worst months on record. The site’s stock price plunged by about 19% last week after the company released an earnings report that showed sluggish growth and sales. Facebook lost around $120 billion in market value in the crash.

Research contact: @nickrobinsearly

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