Facebook bans accounts linked to far-right Proud Boys group

31 Oct 2018

Facebook homepage. Image: sharafmaksumov/Depositphotos

Facebook is banning the Proud Boys, a far-right extremist group linked to a violent attack on protesters in New York earlier this year.

Internet giant Facebook has started to ban both individual accounts and pages affiliated with the Proud Boys, an extremist group founded by Gavin McInnes.

According to Business Insider, members of the group had begun complaining about the profile and page takedowns as early as Tuesday (30 October). Both public-facing and personal accounts linked to the group are being removed.

According to the company, the clampdown on the organisation’s presence on Facebook comes after members assaulted anti-fascist protesters in New York City. The assaults took place outside a venue where McInnes was giving a talk on 12 October. A number of members have been charged over the incident.

Hate speech policy

A spokesperson said that the company is banning the Proud Boys and McInnes from Facebook and Instagram, citing its hate speech policy. They said: “Our team continues to study trends in organised hate and hate speech, and works with partners to better understand hate organisations as they evolve. We ban these organisations and individuals from our platforms and also remove all praise and support when we become aware of it.

“We will continue to review content, pages and people that violate our policies [and] take action against hate speech and hate organisations to help keep our community safe.”

A designated hate group

The organisation uses Facebook as its primary recruitment method, with a labyrinth of groups at local level connecting members. The Proud Boys website also links to the Facebook groups to guide interested parties to local branches.

The collective is designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Formed in 2016, the group describes its members as ‘Western chauvinists’ who champion causes such as white nationalism.

Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, criticised the group in a statement: “These vile acts of racism, division and discrimination are repugnant to American values, and have no place in our state.

“Why did this club invite the Proud Boys, a hate group with a history of inciting violence? Do you believe they have a positive contribution to the political dialogue at this time?”

One of the organisers of the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, North Carolina, was reportedly a member of the Proud Boys.

 Facebook homepage. Image: sharafmaksumov/Depositphotos

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects