TTP Report: Facebook Profits from White Supremacist Groups
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 10, 2022
Contact: Michael Clauw, email@example.com, 202.780.5750
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Campaign for Accountability (CfA) a nonprofit watchdog group that runs the Tech Transparency Project (TTP), released a report revealing that Facebook is still failing to remove white supremacist groups, auto-generating some Pages for hate groups itself, and often profiting from searches for them on its platform. Even more disturbing: TTP discovered that Facebook searches for some groups with “Ku Klux Klan” in their name generated ads for Black churches, highlighting minority institutions to a user searching for white supremacist content.
Campaign for Accountability Executive Director Michelle Kuppersmith said, “Not only is Facebook broadly profiting from white supremacist content on the platform, but it’s also generating dangerous content itself and serving up potential targets for violence to users that fit the likely profile of a domestic extremist. This is beyond reprehensible.”
TTP conducted searches on Facebook for the names of 226 white supremacist organizations that have been designated as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Anti-Defamation League, and Facebook itself. The study found that more than a third (37%) of the 226 white supremacist groups had a presence on Facebook.
Facebook often monetized searches for these groups, even when their names were clearly associated with white supremacy, like “American Defense Skinheads” or various iterations of “Ku Klux Klan.” Beyond revealing that Facebook is profiting from searches for hate groups, the study found multiple ads for specific Black churches in the results.
TTP also discovered that Facebook is creating some of these white supremacist groups itself. Of the 119 Facebook Pages for white supremacist groups identified in this investigation, 20% (24) were auto-generated by Facebook. This has been a longstanding problem for Facebook, and was highlighted in TTP’s 2020 report on Facebook’s white supremacy problem. Some of these Facebook-generated white supremacist Pages have been around for years, amassing thousands of “likes.”
TTP’s study also found inconsistencies in Facebook’s previously announced measures to tackle white supremacy on the platform. One of Facebook’s strategies for combatting extremism—redirecting users who search for terms associated with hate groups to organizations that promote tolerance—only worked in 14% of TTP’s 226 searches for white supremacist organizations.
Facebook’s “Related Pages” feature also served TTP researchers recommendations for additional hate content. Using a new Facebook account and a clean browser, TTP “liked” the 119 Facebook Pages associated with white supremacist groups—and found that in 58% (69) of the cases, Facebook displayed Related Pages, often pointing to other extremist or hateful content.
Ms. Kuppersmith continued, “In its attempt to squeeze the maximum number of ad impressions out of each user, Facebook is completely ignoring the reality that certain rabbit holes lead to real world violence and harm. As the country continues to reckon with the proliferation of hateful ideologies, this type of algorithmic incitement cannot be ignored.”
Campaign for Accountability is a nonpartisan, nonprofit watchdog organization that uses research, litigation, and aggressive communications to expose misconduct and malfeasance in public life and hold those who act at the expense of the public good accountable for their actions.