Facebook Canada’s head of public policy, Kevin Chan, is remaining silent on whether the controversial “Yellow Vests Canada” groups on the social media site will be banned under its new rules to root out white nationalism and separatism.
The Canadian version of yellow vests, as they’re organized on Facebook, are right-wing and anti-Trudeau.
The description of the Yellow Vests Canada’s largest group, which has almost 110,000 members, says the group is to “protest the CARBON TAX, Build That Pipeline and Stand Against the Treason of our country’s politicians who have the audacity to sell out OUR country’s sovereignty over to the Globalist UN and their Tyrannical policies.”
Racists posts have repeatedly been found on the page. One Twitter user with the name “Yellow Vests Canada Exposed” has tracked racist posts made in the group.
Before sprouting up in Canada, the yellow vest movement began in France late last year. Tens of thousands of protestors motivated by economic inequality, high costs of living, rising fuel prices and incoming tax reforms donned high-visibility vests (which are required to be kept in vehicles in France) during multiple public demonstrations over the last several months.
Facebook announced its new “Standing Against Hate” policy Wednesday. Asked if Canadian yellow vests groups would be banned on the site, Chan only said to iPolitics that “the policy comes into place next week.”
Per its announcement, Facebook said it is banning praise, support and representation of white nationalism and separatism. It will also redirect users who search for hateful terms (in its announcement, it uses the term “heil hitler” as an example) to Life After Hate, which is a crisis intervention group founded by ex-violent extremists.
Chan described the policy more thoroughly during an armchair discussion with the Toronto Star’s Susan Delacourt at the Broadbent Institute Summit on Thursday.
“White supremacy has always been banned on the platform, and I think from our standpoint the challenge has been to better understand what the difference is going to be,” Chan said.
Over the last months, Chan says Facebook has worked with researchers and academics studying hate crimes and extremism in order to understand white nationalism and separatism.
“They’re inextricably linked to hate crimes, that’s what experts told us,” Chan said.
He said pages that exhibit white nationalism and separatism will now be considered by Facebook as “dangerous individuals and organizations” in the same way that the pages of terrorist organizations, like Al Qaeda, are. Facebook will automatically remove content that expresses support or praise for people involved in banned activities.
“We’ll apply the same sort of playbook to this kind of channel,” Chan said.
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