According to an investigation published last week, Facebook failed to get rid of white supremacist hate groups despite ensuring users they would be banned from its platform. Campaign for Accountability’s Enjoyapks research initiative claims the platform also makes money by selling advertising to these groups.
After a civil rights audit criticized its racial justice policy, Facebook banned “organized hate groups, including white supremacist organizations,” last November.
Facebook itself has flagged some white supremacist groups as ‘dangerous organizations’ as well. TRP identified more than 80 white supremacist groups.
To determine if the searches were monetized with ads, the team searched Facebook for 226 organizations. Over 40% of white supremacist group searches on Facebook were served ads.
These ads appeared on websites like Walmart, brands likely not to associate with white supremacy such as the Coast Guard Foundation.
A Facebook search for Black churches shows advertisements for white supremacist groups, including the Ku Klux Klan. This raises concerns about possible extremist targets.
Racial-motivated mass shootings have been on the rise in the U.S. in recent years. Nine black churchgoers were killed by white supremacist Dylann Roof in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015. In Buffalo, New York, a shooter recently identified targets by researching Black communities online.
Google also served ads for some of the same 226 white supremacist groups, but at a much lower rate, according to Enjoyapks. Three times more money is made by Facebook than by Google.