Antisemite Farrakhan banned from Facebook

From left Milo Yiannopoulos Louis Farrakhan Alex Jones and Laura Loomer

Facebook on Thursday banned black activist leader Louis Farrakhan, far-right icon Alex Jones and several others from its main service and from Instagram in a heightened crackdown on hate content at the leading social network.

The company is also blocking religious leader Louis Farrakhan, who is known for sharing anti-Semitic views; Paul Nehlen, a white nationalist who ran for Congress in 2018; and conspiracy theorist Paul Joseph Watson.

Madihha Ahussain, special counsel for Muslim Advocates, thanked the social media giant for taking a "positive step toward removing hate actors from the company's platforms". In addition to banning those people, a Facebook spokesperson told CNN it is possible that people who praised or supported the now-banned accounts could also have their content restricted.

A year later, widespread bans of Jones and Infowars reflected a more aggressive enforcement of policies against hate speech.

"There will always be more purveyors of hate speech that try to come on these platforms", he said.

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Facebook has announced that it is permanently banning a number of people from its platform for being "dangerous". It says it bans any users who promote violence or hate.

Figures like Jones, Loomer and Yiannopoulus were able to cultivate a massive reach using the platform, making Facebook's move "insufficient", said Cristina López G, the deputy director for extremism at Media Matters for America, a not-for-profit media watchdog. The stream and Facebook page remained up for well over an hour before it was removed.

Immigration Minister David Coleman described those comments as "appalling" and said they "foment hatred and division".

The result has often been haphazard enforcement of policies: Facebook removed pages associated with Jones and his Infowars website starting previous year, but left up his personal profile, for example. Groups and events that promote Infowars or any of the banned "extremists" will be removed as well, a spokesperson told the Atlantic.

Watson, a British radio host, and YouTube personality tweeted Thursday afternoon that U.S. President Donald Trump should take action against Facebook. Any mention of them will result in bans, too. Jones was placed under a 30-day ban a year ago for violating community standards.

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