Facebook is having a tough week, sent reeling by an explosive New York Times report about its privacy violations which spawned headlines like “Why Should Anyone Believe Facebook Anymore,” and has resulted in the social media giant facing a lawsuit from the Attorney General for the District of Columbia.
Facebook’s stock has also been sliding since Tuesday’s Times report. As of the Wednesday closing bell, Facebook was selling for $133.24 per share — down from $145.57 just five days ago.
But far more quietly, Facebook has made itself a welcoming home for white nationalism that was even too extreme for Twitter.
Nehlen was even banned from alt-right platform Gab.
Facebook received $12,110 from Nehlen’s political campaign between September of 2017 and September of 2018, according to FEC records obtained by money in politics website Sludge.
This included a promoted post in June where Nehlen defended the policy of family separation along the southern border, and linked to the website of “Crying Nazi” Christopher Cantwell, who was indicted for assault for his actions at the white supremacist demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Facebook recognized Cantwell as a hate speech public figure and removed him from their website in 2017, but only removed Nehlen’s advertisement when Sludge specifically asked about it. Despite “significant progress” made in detecting hate speech, Nehlen’s ad was not flagged until brought to Facebook’s attention by journalists.
Cartwell’s site, which Facebook does not detect when searching for hate speech, carries his podcast which Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center director Heidi Beirich calls a “neo-Nazi shock jock.”
“He’s mostly on his podcast ranting about Jews and minorities,” she said. “He made a bit of a fool of himself in Charlottesville, when they called him the ‘crying Nazi’ because he was seen bawling on TV. But his podcast is still popular, and he is one of the most recognizable names in the movement.”
When dealing with Facebook’s history of allowing abuses by Russian trolls, employees said the platform’s failing was being too slow to respond. But when it comes to American white supremacy, Facebook continues it’s stalwart policy of only taking action when made to by an outside force.
“We removed the ad as soon as [Sludge] flagged it for us,” said a Facebook spokesperson.
Sludge was not the first to report on this ad buy — that was Media Matters’ Natalie Martinez.
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.