It took the events in Charlottesville, apparently, to get platforms like Reddit and Facebook to wake up to the real threats of neo-Nazi groups, and like a number of other tech companies taking stands in particular against the white supremacist site Daily Stormer this week they have shut down hate groups that have been using their platforms to congregate and spread hate. As CNet reports, Reddit has heeded calls from users to shut down the subreddit /r/Physical_Removal, which among other things has openly advocated for the murder of liberals, and the return of segregation.
Facebook, likewise, has banned Physical Removal's Facebook group, as well as other like-minded groups with names like Red Winged Knight, Awakened Masses, Genuine Donald Trump, White Nationalists United, Right Wing Death Squad, and Vanguard America.
Both companies have previously given a lot of leeway to these groups and via a leaked internal memo last December we know just how thorny Facebook's moderation choices can be when it comes to discriminatory phrases or hate speech. But now Facebook tells CNet that they will "continue to remove any Facebook posts that include hate speech, praise violent acts or support hate groups, in an attempt to keep those groups from organizing on Facebook."
A Reddit spokesperson tells the site, "We are very clear in our site terms of service that posting content that incites violence will get users banned from Reddit. We have banned /r/Physical_Removal due to violations of the terms of our content policy."
But could it be possible that /r/Physical_Removal's users and moderators only began saying this stuff this week? According to the subreddit /r/AgainstHateSubreddits, /r/Physical_Removal had already committed plenty of sins against Reddit's terms of service including calling for the doxxing of Bernie Sanders supporters, posting a poem about "cleansing," and expressing support for concentration camps. The very name of the subreddit, as the AgainstHate group points out, "is based on the idea of... murdering others because they have views that are of the Liberal or Communist kind."
In a post on Saturday referring to the deadly vehicle attack in Charlottesville, one poster wrote, "It was not legal. However, it was ethical... we have at least one dead antifa and 19 other injured. This is a good thing. They are mockeries of life and need to f**king go."