LOS ANGELES - Facebook has permanently banned far-right and other extremist figures including Louis Farrakhan, Alex Jones and Milo Yiannopoulos, saying on Thursday their accounts violated the company’s policies against dangerous individuals and organizations.
The social media company also removed other controversial extreme right-wing pages from Paul Nehlen, Paul Joseph Watson, Laura Loomer and InfoWars, which is a conservative conspiracy theory site owned by Jones. The seven accounts were removed from Facebook and Instagram. All representation of the people and entities will be removed from their services, the company said.
“We've always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology,” Facebook said in a statement. “The process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and it is what led us to our decision to remove these accounts today.”
Civil rights groups have been pressuring social media companies, including Facebook, to clamp down on hate speech.
The company said they have always banned individuals or organizations that proclaim a violent or hateful mission or are engaged in acts of hate or violence, regardless of ideology or motivation.
The conditions for which they determine whether to ban accounts include whether they have called for or directly carried out acts of violence against people based on factors like race, ethnicity or national origin. Whether they’re a self-described or identified follower of a hateful ideology is another factor the company considers. Whether the accounts use hate speech or slurs in their “about” section on Facebook, Instagram or another social media site is another signal the company looks at.
The company also considers whether accounts have had pages or groups removed from Facebook, or accounts removed from Instagram, for posting content that goes against hate speech policies.
Facebook will remove pages, groups and accounts set up to represent the seven entities banned, as well as any Facebook events when the company knows the individual is participating.
Even though Facebook fully banned the figures on Thursday, the company has previously removed content that they have posted when it violated their policies, which includes hate speech policies, the company said. Facebook cited an example with Alex Jones, who recently hosted Gavin McInnes, a designated hate figure, on his show.
Jones has promoted conspiracy theories on InfoWars, which include a false assertion that the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School was staged. Twenty-six people, including 20 children, were killed in the shooting on December 14, 2012.
Previously, the company had also banned Jones from its flagship service Facebook (but not Instagram) for violating its rules against bullying and hate speech.
Watson is far-right YouTube personality, editor at InfoWars and Jones’ associate.
Farrakhan is a minister and the leader of the Nation of Islam. He has made controversial remarks that have been regarded as anti-Semitic and homophobic.
Nehlen is a white supremacist politician, who Twitter previously banned. He mounted an unsuccessful run for former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s Wisconsin congressional seat, describing himself as a “pro-White Christian candidate.”
Twitter also banned the alt-right writer Yiannopoulos in 2016 for racist online abuse. He formerly wrote for Breitbart News, an alt-right news organization.
Loomer, also banned from Twitter, caused controversy when she spread misinformation about Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, as well as called Islam “a cancer on humanity” in an Instagram story that the service removed.