Facebook is reversing a ban on users praising Ukraine’s Neo-Nazi Azov Battalion, previously included in the platform’s Dangerous Individuals and Organizations policy, amidst Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Internal memos from the social media platform, which has routinely censored mainstream conservative content, reveal it 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,” added The Intercept, which first obtained the company memos.
“For the time being, we are making a narrow exception for praise of the Azov Regiment strictly in the context of defending Ukraine, or in their role as part of the Ukraine National Guard,” clarified a spokesperson from Facebook’s parent company Meta.
“But we are continuing to ban all hate speech, hate symbolism, praise of violence, generic praise, support, or representation of the Azov Regiment, and any other content that violates our community standards,” they added in a statement to Business Insider.
The policy shift follows years of heavy-handed censorship of stories critical of the Democratic Party, pharmaceutical companies, and the Chinese Communist Party despite the platform now deciding to allow praise for a military force known for its “hardcore right-wing ultranationalism and the neo-Nazi ideology pervasive among its members,” according to The Intercept.
The first commander of the Azov Batallion, which has marched and trained for combat wearing symbols from the Third Reich, was former Ukrainian parliamentarian Andriy Biletsky, who asserted that Ukraine’s national objective was to “lead the white races of the world in a final crusade … against Semite-led Untermenschen [subhuman].”
A recent video posted by the National Guard of Ukraine also showed an Azov soldier dipping bullets in pig fat while issuing the following warning: “Dear Muslim brothers, in our country, you will not go to heaven. You will not be allowed into heaven. Go home, please. Here, you will encounter trouble. Thank you for your attention, goodbye.”