Why are Facebook and Instagram promoting hatred?

Meta, the company that owns Facebook and Instagram, has decided to allow its users in some European countries to post calls for violence against Russians and Vladimir Putin.

You can read about it here:

Meta Platforms will allow Facebook and Instagram users in some countries to call for violence against Russians and Russian soldiers in the context of the Ukraine invasion, according to internal emails seen by Reuters on Thursday, in a temporary change to its hate speech policy.

The social media company is also temporarily allowing some posts that call for death to Russian President Vladimir Putin or Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in countries including Russia, Ukraine and Poland, according to internal emails to its content moderators.

“As a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine we have temporarily made allowances for forms of political expression that would normally violate our rules like violent speech such as ‘death to the Russian invaders.’ We still won’t allow credible calls for violence against Russian civilians,” a Meta spokesperson said in a statement.

This report comes just two weeks after Facebook changed its policy regarding the promotion of a neo-Nazi group in Ukraine called the Azov Battalion. Here’s more on that story:

Facebook will temporarily allow its billions of users to praise the Azov Battalion, a Ukrainian neo-Nazi military unit previously banned from being freely discussed under the company’s Dangerous Individuals and Organizations policy, The Intercept has learned.

The policy shift, made this week, is pegged to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and preceding military escalations. The Azov Battalion, which functions as an armed wing of the broader Ukrainian white nationalist Azov movement, began as a volunteer anti-Russia militia before formally joining the Ukrainian National Guard in 2014; the regiment is known for its hardcore right-wing ultranationalism and the neo-Nazi ideology pervasive among its members. Though it has in recent years downplayed its neo-Nazi sympathiesthe group’s affinities are not subtle: Azov soldiers march and train wearing uniforms bearing icons of the Third Reich; its leadership has reportedly courted American alt-right and neo-Nazi elements; and in 2010, the battalion’s first commander and a former Ukrainian parliamentarian, Andriy Biletsky, stated that Ukraine’s national purpose was to “lead the white races of the world in a final crusade … against Semite-led Untermenschen [subhumans].” With Russian forces reportedly moving rapidly against targets throughout Ukraine, Facebook’s blunt, list-based approach to moderation puts the company in a bind: What happens when a group you’ve deemed too dangerous to freely discuss is defending its country against a full-scale assault?

According to internal policy materials reviewed by The Intercept, Facebook will “allow praise of the Azov Battalion when explicitly and exclusively praising their role in defending Ukraine OR their role as part of the Ukraine’s National Guard.” Internally published examples of speech that Facebook now deems acceptable include “Azov movement volunteers are real heroes, they are a much needed support to our national guard”; “We are under attack. Azov has been courageously defending our town for the last 6 hours”; and “I think Azov is playing a patriotic role during this crisis.”

Wow, it sure is difficult to keep track of acceptable social media policies these days. When Trump was president, Facebook had no problem with users calling for his death, but of course no such hate speech is allowed regarding President Biden. And who would have ever thought Facebook would allow the promotion of actual neo-Nazis?

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I find this situation eerily familiar. The Book of Mormon, written for our time, warns us clearly that people throw out all morality during wartime.

Mormon 4:

10 And it came to pass that the three hundred and sixty and sixth year had passed away, and the Lamanites came again upon the Nephites to battle; and yet the Nephites repented not of the evil they had done, but persisted in their wickedness continually.

11 And it is impossible for the tongue to describe, or for man to write a perfect description of the horrible scene of the blood and carnage which was among the people, both of the Nephites and of the Lamanites; and every heart was hardened, so that they adelighted in the shedding of blood continually.

12 And there never had been so great awickedness among all the children of Lehi, nor even among all the house of Israel, according to the words of the Lord, as was among this people.

Facebook is promoting the hardening of hearts and widespread wickedness. It is true that Facebook is just the platform for these expressions of hatred and the promotion of neo-Nazis, but in many other cases Facebook has made the decision to censor such expressions. When it comes to promoting war, Facebook has no problem ending the censorship. (For the record, I am against Facebook’s censorship policies — the point of this post is to point out social media hypocrisy when it comes to promoting war).

I fear we will see many reports of similar hypocrisy and the horrific promotion of “blood and carnage” in the days and weeks ahead. As Latter-day Saints, we should promote peace and remember the warning of President Spencer W. Kimball:

We are a warlike people, easily distracted from our assignment of preparing for the coming of the Lord. When enemies rise up, we commit vast resources to the fabrication of gods of stone and steel — ships, planes, missiles, fortifications — and depend on them for protection and deliverance. When threatened, we become antienemy instead of pro-kingdom of God; we train a man in the art of war and call him a patriot, thus, in the manner of Satan’s counterfeit of true patriotism, perverting the Savior’s teaching:

“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
“That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:44-45).

We forget that if we are righteous the Lord will either not suffer our enemies to come upon us — and this is the special promise to the inhabitants of the land of the Americas (see 2 Nephi 1:7) — or he will fight our battles for us (Exodus 14:14; D&C 98:37, to name only two references of many). This he is able to do, for as he said at the time of his betrayal, “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53). We can imagine what fearsome soldiers they would be. King Jehoshaphat and his people were delivered by such a troop (see 2 Chronicles 20), and when Elish’s life was threatened, he comforted his servant by saying, “Fear not; for they that be with us are more than they that be with them” (2 Kings 6:16). The Lord then opened the eyes of the servant, “And he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha” (vs 17).

What are we to fear when the Lord is with us? Can we not take the Lord at his word and exercise a particle of faith in him? Our assignment is affirmative: to forsake the things of the world as ends in themselves; to leave off idolatry and press forward in faith; to carry the gospel to our enemies, that they might no longer be our enemies.

Amen and amen.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

11 thoughts on “Why are Facebook and Instagram promoting hatred?

  1. Profound, astute, insightful and much needed reminder of where on the totem pole of faith is our notch to be found. I read, quite a while ago, a story of one of the battles Israel was fighting with one of its neighbors where a very small troop was cornered into a canyon by a much larger troop of their enemy. As the larger troop came around a corner in the canyon, the Israelis were preparing to ffight their last battle but as soon as the enemy had rounded the corner, they stopped, put down their weapons and surrendered to a hand full of soldiers leaving them speechless. Apparently one of the eneny remarked that the Israelis were backed up by a huge host of supporters which the Israelis were not even aware of or had seen. My point is, if the Lord can send his Angels to protect His people during a battle, how much more would He be willing to do it peacefully thru our faith. Thank you, again Geoff, for this much neede reminder of where we should be.

  2. Hans S, good comment. And of course remember that when the Savior came to the Americas he said we should read Isaiah carefully. And in Isaiah 37 we read that the Assyrians surrounded Jerusalem with 185,000 troops, but the prophet Isaiah told the king’s messengers that everything would be OK because the Lord would protect Jerusalem. And the next day, angels of the Lord destroyed the Assyrians. In my opinion, this is a type for our day, ie, we need to learn to trust the Lord and allow Him to fight our battles. The Lord will protect us if we are righteous. We should always sue for peace — always. And if we are attacked directly (ie, foreign troops attacking the United States), we should fight morally justifiable defensive wars. But all of these wars overseas are immoral and show that as a people we lack faith, just as President Kimball says.

  3. Why they promote hate is because they reject the light of Christ and yield to the natural man. Why do so many choose to combine their hate in unison with what the crowd condemns? It is because their religion is the emotional madness of the crowd. This is what gives their lives meaning. This false gods of mass hysteria is what makes them feel a part of something bigger than themselves.

    This phenomenon is explained with great insight by this article::

    “The Frictionless Souls Addicted to the Cause”

    The author observes the mercurial mood of broad portions of the population, and that it appears to be the same portion swinging dramatically from one cause to another. The author explains this behavior is a consequence of a people who believe in nothing permanent. They are truly as rudderless ships in a storm driven to and fro by the wind and waves

    He writes::

    “A frictionless world in which family, sexual partners, friends, homes, and careers can be abandoned at short notice also requires frictonless causes that are equally disposable.

    Replacing religion with politics has made for more frictionless souls who never grow. The emotional retardation can be seen everywhere as adults behave like teenagers and teenagers behave like children. No one ever grows up, instead they feign maturity through politics.

    Advocating for causes makes them seem like they care about something more than themselves. The right politics bestows membership in a community based on politics, but behind all the virtue signaling is the fundamental immaturity of people who only truly care about themselves.”

    Yes, this is harsh judgment. But it is deserved. What else but deep spiritual and emotional immaturity can explain the social behaviors of recent years. We had a movement to universally condemn police and then watched as murders ratcheted up and the people who suffered most were the people the anti-police advocates claimed to be helping!

    We have watched as the people last to be unmasked were children, all while children are the least at risk from Covid! We watched as the crowd condemned and demanded consequences of those who disagreed with mask and vaccine mandates. And now those “worst people in the world” have been forgotten and replaced by Russians. Who is next in line for hate?

    The author adds:

    “True religion is an ongoing act of conscience while false religion evades the internal accountability and externalizes it into political causes. The external virtue signaling projects a false righteousness to mask the underlying failure to struggle for internal rightness.

    Radicals jump from one unfulfilling cause to another because escape requires motion. The causes themselves are external and ultimately unfulfilling. No matter how hard leftists struggle to change the world, they fail to change what is truly within their power to change: themselves.”

  4. Disciple, I am finding the above is true not just for leftists, but for a lot of people all over the political spectrum these days. Some of the worst warmongers right now are supposed conservatives who think they are doing something noble by calling for new participants in the war in Ukraine, which will only cause more deaths and more destruction.

  5. The spirit of conservatism is taking time to consider what the best options are, and thoughtfully pursue them, and not to be reactive. To base decisions upon what has worked in the past – and what hasn’t – and combine it with current understanding. To also consider what will do the least harm and the most good, and have long-term benefits, not just short-term apparent gains at the cost of such benefits.

    So I would say that anyone who thinks they follow a conservative philosophy, but acts without such consideration/deliberation, isn’t actually following that philosophy.

    The article that ‘A Disciple’ quoted sounds accurate and insightful, and it is those of a progressive ideology who do this, overwhelmingly. The thing which, I think, is spread across political groups is politics taking over from religion – taking into account, of course, that people with conservative philosophies tend to be more religious (as in, more practise a religion, especially Christianity), and so are, perhaps, less likely to need something to replace it.

  6. Some books that explain the above comments:

    Group-think, crowd politics: “The Crowd” by Gustav Le Bon. It’s in the public domain. Free Kindle edition at Amazon. And other formats (pdf, html, epub) at http://www.gutenberg.org.

    “Demonic” by Ann Coulter. This is based on Le Bon’s book, and uses it to analyze today’s progressivism. Available used on Amazon for ~ $2 + shipping.

    “Rules for Radicals”, by Saul Alinsky. Both Obama and HRC are Alinsky-ites. HRC’s thesis was on Alinsky. Obama was mentored by Alinsky’s disciples in Chicago. This book advocates the tactic of jumping from cause to cause in order to create chaos and a breakdown of western society. so as to create a new society from the rubble. Another theme is “the issue at hand is never the real issue”, but merely a tool for a broader goal of destruction.

    Coulter rightly deduced that the true source of stirring up the crowd for the purpose of destroying civilization is demonic.

    It can be difficult to read Coulter because she uses hyperbole as much as Trump (who she now hates.) If you can read her with a “hyperbole-filter” she does seem to make sense from a conservative viewpoint.

  7. Geof,

    I agree and wish the author had been more careful with political labels. For it was the W. Bush administration that lied to start the Iraq war and then lied in how that war was going. And it was the same administration that responded to the 2008 financial crisis by bailing out banks and their executives – Socialism’s finest hour until Covid came about. And all politicians / political parties initially supported the Socialist response to Covid including the shutdowns, lockdowns and bailouts.

    On the level of using political activism to cover for personal responsibility all parties are guilty. Very few will object to a bailout for themselves or a friend, or to using the power of government for personal gain.

    But it is a particular subset of people who are especially in tune with the mood of the crowd. Who instinctively know what response the crowd expects them to give. They are not by definition “leftist”. They are however immediately engaged by the propagandists to give support to political arguments that often further the agenda of the so called radical left. Of note, compare the BLM protests of 2020 to the American anti-Covid mandate protests of 2022. The latter, whether it was a trucker convoy – officially this occurred in the US last week – or a rally at the national mall, was a fizzle that engaged very few people.

    Another point, often the “crowd” is not the movement with the most voices, but rather the voices of those who are deemed most influential. This dynamic is seen with the trans movement. The vast majority of people oppose the idea of a man competing against women and being rewarded as a woman. But the elite progressives support this and their voice is the one that counts, as seen by the outcome at Yale with the male swimmer being supported by Yale and Ivy league administrators.

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