Facebook removes ‘dangerous individuals’ including Alex Jones

3 May 2019

Image: © JP Photography/Stock.adobe.com

Social network says it will not give a voice to those who use hate speech or promote violence.

Facebook has banned extremists including Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones from Facebook and Instagram.

The company has also banned right-wing figures Paul Nehlen, Milo Yiannopoulos, Paul Joseph Watson and Laura Loomer, along with Infowars, from its platforms.

‘The process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and it is what led us to our decision to remove these accounts today’

The ban also extends to fan pages and related accounts, and the figures will be prohibited from creating new accounts. Facebook said that their accounts violated its policies against dangerous individuals and organisations.

“We’ve always banned individuals or organisations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology,” the company 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.”

Violating policies

Social media companies such as Facebook have been under pressure from civil rights groups to clamp down on hate speech.

After the white nationalist protests in Charlottesville in 2017, Google, Facebook and PayPal began banning groups or individuals that identified as or supported white supremacists.

In August 2018 several major online giants booted Alex Jones from their platforms as Apple removed five out of six of Jones’s podcasts while Spotify wiped the entire back catalogue of The Alex Jones Show.

While Facebook hasn’t revealed its precise reasons for banning these extreme figures, it is understood that Jones, Yiannopoulos and Loomer have recently promoted Gavin McInnes, founder of the far-right group Proud Boys, which Facebook banned last October.

Facebook is likely to draw criticism from far-right figures who have accused the social network of suppressing Conservative voices. The social network has denied that its decisions are based on politics and said these individuals have repeatedly violated its policies around hate speech and promoting violence.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years