Facebook on Thursday banned prominent conspiracy theorist and Infowars founder Alex Jones as well as the extremist black activist Louis Farrakhan in its latest push to “crack down” on “hate content” at the leading social network.
“We’ve always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology”, Facebook claims.
Among the most prominent figures banned, Farrakhan, the head of the Nation of Islam, is notorious for spreading anti-Semitic and black supremacist views.
Conspiracy theorist Jones is best known for calling the 9/11 attacks an inside job and for describing the Sandy Hook school massacre as a hoax. Jones’s organization Infowars was also banned by Facebook.
Others blocked Thursday from Facebook and Instagram were Milo Yiannopoulos, a high-profile right-wing commentator.
Surprisingly enough, though, Paul Joseph Watson a conservative Youtuber you who criticizes various aspects of everyday life in a humorous way, was also banned.
Facebook said those being banned had violated policies against dangerous individuals and organizations.
Such bans typically include prohibiting others at the social network from using the platform to post praise or support from those no longer welcomed.
Facebook last month banned various far-right British groups including the English Defense League from its network for promoting hate and violence.
Other groups kicked off both Facebook or Instagram included Knights Templar International, Britain First, the British National Party (BNP) and the National Front.
Some of the tech titan’s bans, though, were based on an overstretched interpretation of its policy that forbids “terrorist activity, organized hate, mass or serial murder, human trafficking or organized violence or criminal activity”.
Facebook and other social media platforms have been repeatedly criticized for failing to offer equal time for all viewpoints, no matter how unpleasant.
US President Donald Trump has accused social media platforms of discriminating against users with right-wing views.
“Social Media is totally discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices”, Trump said in a tweet after Jones was curbed at Facebook and Spotify last year.
Amid pressure from governments around the world, Facebook has ramped up machine learning and artificial intelligence tools in an effort to find and remove hateful content while remaining open to free expression.
Many have voiced concerns, however, regarding the social media’s unchecked power over which views they label as “acceptable” and which as “unacceptable”…