Facebook deletes Richard Spencer’s accounts in hate speech crackdown

The Facebook pages of Richard Spencer, the alt-right leader who was famously punched in the face last year, have been suspended.

The pages for the National Policy Institute, a lobbying group of sorts for white nationalists, and Spencer’s online magazine “altright.com,” vanished on Friday after Vice sent the social network an inquiry about hate groups. They had a combined following of almost 15,000 followers.

The action was taken just days after Mark Zuckerberg emphasized during his testimony before Congress that Facebook does not allow hate speech. But it wasn’t until Vice flagged the accounts that Facebook suspended them. The social network said in a statement that it identifies violating pages using human monitors, algorithms, and partnerships with organizations.

Spencer is one of the most prominent and outspoken leaders of the alt-right, a movement defined as a “re-branding of white supremacy for the digital generation” by Mark Potok, an expert in extremist groups at the Southern Poverty Law Center. Spencer is credited for coining the term “alt-right” and is seen as a thought leader for the group.

Spencer’s transgressions are well documented. In 2016, he celebrated Trump’s victory by rousing a group of National Policy Institute members who responded to his speech with the Nazi salute. Spencer also led a crowd of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, two months after a rally at the same location turned deadly. The controversial figure, who openly advocates for segregation, has the goal of creating a whites-only “ethno state.”  In January, the face of the alt-right was punched and a video of the Washington D.C. assault instantly went viral.

This isn’t the first time Spencer has been suspended from social media. After facing criticism for allowing hate speech, Twitter cracked down on white supremacists and deleted his account. For Facebook, its actions are a step in the right direction toward aligning its ideals with reality.

Still, a number of Facebook pages belonging to groups that potentially violate the company’s hate speech rules are still active, including AntiComm, a group of right-wing extremists that was revealed to be sharing instructions on how to create bombs, grenades, and mines. Other active groups were created by neo-nazis, some containing anti-semitic imagery and quotes from Hitler.

We have reached out to Facebook and will update this article if we hear back.

Phillip Tracy

Phillip Tracy

Phillip Tracy is a former technology staff writer at the Daily Dot. He's an expert on smartphones, social media trends, and gadgets. He previously reported on IoT and telecom for RCR Wireless News and contributed to NewBay Media magazine. He now writes for Laptop magazine.