Social media giant Facebook has significantly stepped-up its censorship efforts by banning seven accounts, six of which are often described as ‘far-right’.
The banned accounts belonged to Alex Jones, his publication Infowars, Milo Yiannopoulos, Paul Joseph Watson, Laura Loomer, Paul Nehlen and Louis Farrakhan. Jones and Infowars, of which Watson is an editor, are known more for general conspiracy theories than any specific political stance, while Yiannopoulos is a notorious provocateur, Loomer a political activist, Nehlen a fringe US politician and Farrakhan the leader of The Nation of Islam.
“We’ve always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology,” said a Facebook spokesperson in response to our query. The process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and it is what led us to our decision to remove these accounts.” The ban also applies to Facebook-owned social networking service Instagram.
Further enquiries revealed that all were banned for violating Facebook’s policies against dangerous individuals & organizations. Among the things Facebook considers to be violations include:
- Calling for violence against people based on factors like race, ethnicity or national origin
- Following a ‘hateful’ ideology
- Use of ‘hate speech’ or ‘slurs’, even on other social media sites
- Whether they’ve had stuff removed from Facebook or Instagram before
There are also two tiers of ban. Facebook told us it usually censors all other users from even praising banned people and organisations, regardless of context, which implies it does allow criticism of them or indeed neutral commentary. A lighter type of ban, however, covers people who haven’t transgressed according to the policy above but are still considered ‘dangerous’ by Facebook according to unspecified criteria. They get banned but everyone else is still allowed to say nice things about them if they want. It’s unclear which category each of the recently banned people fall into, hence whether or not users should avoid saying nice things about them. Read more