Mark Zuckerberg on Charlottesville: Facebook will remove violent threats

Mark Zuckerberg broke his silence on the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville last weekend, writing in a Facebook post on Wednesday that the social network is “watching the situation closely and will take down threats of physical harm”.

The CEO’s statement was made four days after a counter-protester was killed at a “Unite the Right” rally that used a Facebook event to recruit attendees, and a day after he published a post about a new data center Facebook is building in Ohio. The social network also appears to be deleting a number of white nationalist and neo-Nazi profiles and pages.

“There is no place for hate in our community,” the CEO wrote. “That’s why we’ve always taken down any post that promotes or celebrates hate crimes or acts of terrorism – including what happened in Charlottesville. With the potential for more rallies, we’re watching the situation closely and will take down threats of physical harm.”

Zuckerberg’s comments also appeared to reference Donald Trump’s equivocation on the question of whether the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists are condemnable, though he did not mention Trump by name. “It’s a disgrace that we still need to say that neo-Nazis and white supremacists are wrong,” he wrote, “as if this is somehow not obvious.”

Facebook board member and Zuckerberg mentor Peter Thiel was the most high-profile Trump supporter in Silicon Valley. A spokesman for the self-proclaimed contrarian did not respond to queries about Thiel’s views on Trump’s recent statements, even as business leaders have abandoned the president’s advisory councils.

Facebook’s purge of white nationalist and neo-Nazi accounts comes many months after the Southern Poverty Law Center provided the social network with a list of more than 200 profiles, pages, and groups affiliated with hate groups. In July, the Guardian found that at least 175 of those links remained active. After the Guardian inquired, an additional nine accounts were deactivated.

Among the accounts that were deemed acceptable in July but appear to have been deleted in the past 72 hours are pages associated with the neo-Nazi Traditionalist Workers Party, white nationalist publisher Counter-Currents, and neo-Nazi group Gallows Tree Wotansvolk.

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Other categories of hate groups appear not to have been affected by the Facebook crackdown, including neo-Confederate, anti-Muslim, and anti-LGBT pages. Facebook did not immediately respond to questions from the Guardian about the account deletions.

Facebook is just the latest tech company to attempt to close the barn door after the neo-Nazi horse has bolted.

Also on Wednesday, website security company Cloudflare announced that it would no longer provide services to neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer.

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