‘Banned for life’: Facebook’s purge
FACEBOOK has designated several extremist figures as "dangerous" - including Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, Infowars host Alex Jones, political commentator Milo Yiannopoulos and conspiracy theorist Laura Loomer - and permanently banned them.
The New York Post said the social media giant removed the accounts, fan pages and groups affiliated with the high-profile personalities after it re-evaluated their content or re-examined their activities outside Facebook, the Washington Post reported.
"We've always banned individuals or organisations 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," it added.
Jones and InfoWars also have been banned from Facebook since August 2018, but had maintained a presence on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook.
On Thursday (local time), Jones and his media outlet will also be barred from Instagram, where he and other extremists and alt-right stars have spread conspiracy theories, misinformation and extremist thought.
Jones recently hosted Gavin McInnes, the leader of the Proud Boys, which the company designated as a hate figure in December.
Yiannopoulos praised McInnes publicly this year, and Loomer appeared with him at a rally.
Others who have been banned include YouTube personality and conspiracy theorist Paul Joseph Watson and white supremacist Paul Nehlen, who ran for Congress in 2016 and 2018.
Conservatives lashed out at the news on Twitter. YouTube personality and conspiracy theorist Paul Watson is among those banned. "(I) was given no reason. I broke none of their rules," he said.
Mark Dice, another social media conspiracy theorist, said the people banned had been "unpersoned by Facebook's latest purge"
"(They have been) labelled 'dangerous individuals' (and) banned for life.
"This censorship is beyond anti-American. It's truly Orwellian. Everyone should speak out against this."
A Facebook rep told CNN Business that the company goes through a lengthy process and takes several factors into consideration before deeming a person to be "dangerous."
Such factors include whether the person or organisation has ever called for violence against people based on race, ethnicity or national origin; whether the person has been identified with a hateful ideology; whether they use hate speech in their social media profiles; and whether they have had pages or groups removed from Facebook for violating hate-speech rules.
Facebook has been wary of offending conservatives, who have accused the company on unfairly censoring their speech.
Thursday's announcement is likely to be welcomed by civil rights activists who have long maintained that these people promote violent and hateful views and that social media companies should not allow their platforms to become a vehicle for spreading them.
This article originally appeared in the New York Post and is republished here with permission