Facebook, “Bots,”, and the Roots of White Supremacy

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Facebook and Instagram recently took down event pages for antifascist and anti-racist mobilizations in DC that are set to counter “Unite the Right #2.” Ironically, neo-Nazis and white nationalists used Facebook to organize and coordinate their events. This recent censorship by a multi-national corporation with deep ties to the State shows that Silicon Valley is far from a “neutral” player, and along with the ruling order, views social movements as a major threat. This statement from Solidarity Cville is followed by a statement from Shut It Down DC. 

Facebook’s overzealous censorship of anti-fascists, citing “bots” and “Russia” as the reason, ignores the US roots of white supremacy and the grassroots fight to end racism

On Tuesday, July 31, Facebook and Instagram took down a number of accounts that they claim were “involved in coordinated inauthentic behavior,” citing bot-like activity similar to previous Russian-linked accounts. One page caught in the fray was the “No Unite The Right – DC” Facebook event page hosted by a coalition of groups including Black Lives Matter – DC and Smash Racism DC, which have a deep history of on-the-ground work against racism and fascism in and around the nation’s capital.

The Facebook event page was taken down, citing one small instance of bot-like behavior for one account tied to their organizing, essentially censoring the work of an entire coalition of real organizers fighting for a better world. Charlottesville groups who resisted and continue to resist Unite The Right’s impact on our city stand in solidarity with DC organizers who have been hampered by this act of blatant, blanket censorship!

In the summer of 2017, when Jason Kessler announced the original Unite the Right rally, a small group of organizers in Charlottesville took on the work of resisting his planned fascist incursion. Many of these organizers faced immense odds, including death threats, state repression, doxxing, traumatic physical attacks, and more in order to resist the fascist rally.

The rally left behind literal scars and death and led to further state repression of black community defenders like Corey Long and Deandre Harris, as well as a grand jury that sought to subpoena car attack survivors. It is incredibly insulting that mainstream media has taken Facebook’s act of censorship as an excuse to reduce the real traumas of August 11 and 12 to “Russian interference” or “bots.” We will continue to uphold the real work of organizers in Charlottesville and DC against Unite the Right 2.0.

Jason Kessler is a US citizen born and raised in Virginia, a settler of colonized land. His white supremacist ideology was informed by centuries of homegrown violence against black and indigenous people and migrants. Participants and co-organizers of his white supremacist rallies have been raised in the same atmosphere of American racism. This reality predates the Trump administration’s cooperation with and upholding of Putin’s government. This reality is what the DC and Charlottesville organizers are fighting against, and any attempt to censor us in the name of “digital security” is a cheap and dishonest effort to hide the deep roots of white supremacy in the US.

We call on Facebook, Instagram, and media outlets across the US to recognize the continued need to resist Unite the Right, or any other incarnation of organized white supremacists. Just as white supremacy is rooted in US history, so is the movement to end it and create a free world. Charlottesville’s coalition has not received aid from Russia, or any state government, elite, or corporation, and we do not need or want it. We have DC and each others’ backs and will continue to fight until white supremacists are no longer “uniting.”

Please see the DC coalition Shut It Down DC’s original statement for more context.

SHOW UP TO RESIST WHITE SUPREMACY THIS AUGUST!

August 4th – Stop the Hate! Rally in Portland, OR against Patriot Prayer
August 5th – Sweep Away the Fascists in Berkeley, CA
August 11th – VA Students Act Against White Supremacy: Rally for Justice at the UVA Rotunda
August 12th – “Still Here Still Strong” Rally in DC; Charlottesville event TBD

Signed,

Charlottesville Summer of Resistance Welcoming Committee

The FaceBook Page Deletion

Earlier today, Facebook deleted numerous Facebook pages, including one event aimed at promoting a protest against Jason Kessler’s Unite The Right 2, the sequel no one asked for.

The Shut It Down DC Coaliton has been meeting for weeks. We took over the Facebook event created by outside groups, in a desire to keep it accountable to local organizers. At numerous points, national groups have organized events in DC, and often demanded the resources of local organizers. We took over the Facebook event in question to prevent over-burden, and to control it.

The event was created by Resisters, but was used for legitimate protest organizing and promotion. Specifically, local organizers put our own messaging, graphics, and videos in it. We did not promote anyones views except our own.

White nationalism and supremacy is not a Russian ploy, it’s a systemic problem. Jason Kessler is not a Russian bot, he’s the foot soldier of the Trump agenda. White Supremacy did not start with the election of Trump and it won’t end when Democrats are elected to the U.S. congress. It started when Columbus arrived in 1492 and robbed, murdered, and raped first nation peoples, it continued with the chattel slave trade, Segregation and Jim Crow, the Chinese Exclusion Act, Japanese internment camps, and shackled dead black bodies on stolen land.

Black Lives Matter D.C. and numerous other groups are central to organizing against a real threat to D.C. We do not organize because of a FaceBook account purportedly run by Russia, we do this to make sure our loved ones, communities, and neighborhoods stay safe from fascists in, and out of, uniforms.

We’ve since created a new Facebook event but we know real organizing comes from talking with our neighbors, and that this is a real protest in Washington, D.C. It is not George Soros, it is not Russia, it is just us. Facebook, has left numerous white nationalists pages openly promoting hate up for months at a time, claiming their hands were tied. They regularly suspended Black Lives Matter, Antifascist Groups, and Black Lives Matter member accounts. They have taken down real organizing.

In solidarity,

The Shut It Down D.C. Coalition


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