Facebook Bans Alt-right Figures for Breaching Hate & Violence Policies
The social media giant has banned users regarded as “dangerous individuals” in its latest crackdown on hate speech.
Facebook confirmed a new wave of bans yesterday, which saw several prominent right-wing figures and pages taken down from the platform over hate speech.
Alex Jones, the controversial figure of right-wing news site InfoWars, along with the channel’s UK editor, Paul Joseph Watson, were banned from the platform along with former editor of Breitbart News, Milo Yiannopoulos.
The move by Facebook follows another ban wave earlier this month, which saw a host of right-wing pages, such as Britain First, taken down. Leaders from groups, including the English Defence League, were also banned by the social media firm.
Louis Farrakhan was also banned by Facebook yesterday. The Nation of Islam leader was banned from the platform for making anti-Semitic comments earlier this year.
This latest ban also applies to Facebook’s sister platform Instagram, the company confirmed.
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Watson took to Twitter to criticise the firm’s decision to issue bans. He said: “Reports are true. I have been banned by Facebook. Was given no reason. I broke none of their rules. In an authoritarian society controlled by a handful of Silicon Valley Giants, all dissent must be purged.”
Discussions over the issue on Twitter escalated sharply in the wake of the bans, with claims that the move was politically motivated. Watson called on the Trump administration to ‘take action’ and urged other conservatives to speak out.
Hopefully, other prominent conservatives will speak out about me being banned, knowing that they are next if we don’t pressure the Trump administration to take action.
— Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) May 2, 2019
During an animated speech, the InfoWars host suggested he was a victim of “racketeering” by Silicon Valley “cartels”.
“They didn’t just ban me,” he said. “They just defamed us. Why did Zuckerberg even do this? There’s a new world now, man, where they’re banning everybody and then they tell Congress nobody is getting banned.”
Anti-Conservative Conspiracy or Legitimate Action?
Facebook explained its rationale for the bans, highlighting that those excluded from the platform were deemed to be “dangerous individuals” who circulate hateful rhetoric.
In a statement, Facebook said: “We’ve always banned individuals or organisations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology. The process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and it is what led us to our decision to remove these accounts today.”
Its reason for banning Alex Jones, in particular, was to due to Gavin McInnes’ appearance on his programme. McInnes, who was designated as a ‘hate figure’ by the platform, is the leader of a group known as the ‘Proud Boys’. Members of this group have regularly expressed racist, misogynistic and anti-Muslim views.
Jones was previously suspended from the platform last year for breaching rules on bullying and hate speech. He was also banned from Twitter permanently. Following that controversy, Apple, YouTube and Spotify also removed content belonging to Jones for violating their respective policies on hate speech.
Milo Yiannopoulous, a prominent alt-right figure, was banned following his public praise of McInnes and EDL founder, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, also known as Tommy Robinson. Banned figures were forewarned over their impending exclusion – which Facebook has been criticised for.
Those expecting to be banned from the platform were given time to redirect viewers and/or followers to other platforms. Speaking to his followers on Instagram, Yiannopoulos wrote: “I’m about to be banned. Please sign up for my mailing list before this account disappears.”
Similarly, Alex Jones informed his viewers over the impending ban. For a short time yesterday, Jones was broadcasting on Facebook.