Facebook and Instagram have come under fire for hosting a white supremacist network with over 80,000 followers and links to the UK far right.
The network, which includes more than 40 neo-Nazi sites, offers NaziSS merchandise, antisemitic clothing and record labels featuring bands with names including Gas Chambers.
According to a report from the Centre for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), sales of the merchandise fund two neo-Nazi extreme movements operating from Ukraine.
Among the examples highlighted in the report is an account called Stay Brave Streetwear, which sells clothing featuring neo-Nazi imagery both on its website and directly on Facebook.
Facebook was warned of the neo-Nazi network two years ago, according to the Coalition for a Safer Web, and the network has grown significantly since then.
Imran Ahmed, chief executive of CCDH, said: “Facebook’s leadership endangered public safety by letting neo-Nazis finance their activities through Facebook and Instagram.
“Facebook was first told about this problem two years ago and failed to act.”
Ahmed, who is a member of the pilot group for the government’s commission on countering extremism, added: “This lack of action would not have gone unnoticed by extremists, who now know that Facebook allows them to recruit, organise and raise funds without interference.”
Facebook, which owns Instagram, revealed figures on the prevalence of hate speech on their platforms for the first time last week. They revealed that across July, August and September approximately one in 1,000 pieces of content viewed included hate speech. Facebook also said it had acted over 22.1 million pieces of hate speech content during the same three months.
One of the Facebook pages is called ‘Gas Chambers’ where visitors are directed to sites including images of white skinheads standing next to a murdered black man and a Jewish man, with the caption: “Aggravated assault: It could happen to you.”
In a company statement, Facebook said: “We have removed the content which violates our policies prohibiting dangerous organisations.
“We regularly work to improve our technology to find and remove this content faster, and, while there is more work to do, we are making progress. We’ve banned over 250 white supremacist organisations from Facebook and Instagram.”
A CST spokesperson said: “CST has repeatedly warned that policies banning hate on social media are worthless if not properly enforced.
“We understand that Facebook may have now belatedly removed this latest example of hate, but it is not good enough that others have to find such hatred and then report it. Facebook need to know why their systems failed, yet again.”
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