Facebook announced on May 2 that in addition to banning several alt-right figures and Louis Farrakhan, posting links to Infowars is banned too.
The social media giant announced the banning of Alex Jones, Infowars, Milo Yiannopoulos, Paul Joseph Watson, Laura Loomer, Paul Nehlen, and Louis Farrakhan. Loomer, Yiannopoulos, Nehlen and Jones have already been banned from Twitter. While Jones had only been active on Instagram since 2018, as he’d been removed from most mainstream social media platforms.
Infowars Has Been Treated to the Strictest Ban
The Atlantic reports that any Facebook or Instagram account that posts links to Infowars “will see the content removed.” If the user persists in posting banned content, the user themselves will have their account deleted. Events promoting the presence of banned figures is also forbidden.
An Instagram spokeswoman, Stephanie Otway, told Heavy.com, “We’ve always banned individuals or organizations 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.” When asked about the banning of posting links, Otway said, “I can’t share specific numbers but as with other violations on IG and FB, we will note when content is removed from the Page, Group, Profile or account – and further violations may result in further action, for example, an account removal.”
Facebook Has Provided the Specific Examples of When Those Who Are Banned Have Violated the Rules
In implementing the ban, Facebook has gone to the lengths of removing fan pages and any groups associated with the banned figures. The Facebook statement on the banned figures includes specific examples of the violations:
Alex Jones: Hosted Gavin McInnes who we have designated as a hate figure in Dec 2018 and Feb 2019.
Milo Yiannopoulos: In 2019, he publicly praised Gavin McInnes and Tommy Robinson, both of whom we’ve banned.
Laura Loomer: In December 2018, she appeared with Gavin McInnes, and this year she praised and supported Faith Goldy – again, both people who are banned under our dangerous orgs policy.
Louis Farrakhan: In 2019, referred to Jews as termites, and called the religion dirty and its followers liars, cheaters, thieves.
Infowars Editor Paul Joseph Watson Has Called on President Trump to Take Social Media Censorship Seriously
Infowars editor Paul Joseph Watson tweeted on the banning saying, “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.” Watson later urged President Donald Trump to “take the issue of social media censorship seriously.”
One Media Pundit Said Facebook Had Been Slow to Act on Right-Wing Groups for Fear of a Conservative ‘Blowback’
The Washington Post’s reporting on the ban includes the sentence, “Facebook has also been wary of offending conservatives, who have become vocal about allegations that the company unfairly censors their speech.” While the president of Media Matters, Angelo Carusone, told the Post that Facebook’s reluctance to implement bans against far-right figures was due to the potential “blowback” the company would receive from the political right.
In March 2019, Facebook announced that the company would be taking a tougher stance against white supremacist organizations that operated on their platform.