Facebook today eliminated Louis Farrakhan, Alex Jones, Paul Nehlen, Milo Yiannopoulos, Paul Joseph Watson, Laura Loomer and Facebook and Instagram Infowars, saying that their accounts violated their policies against dangerous individuals and organizations. They will be banned from creating new accounts, although Facebook and Instagram users will continue to create publications that will praise them and their views, the company said.
"We have always banned people or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hatred, regardless of ideology," the company said in a statement. "The process to evaluate potential offenders is extensive and that is what led us to our decision to eliminate these accounts today."
Infowars founder Jones, Jones, was suspended from Facebook last year under the rules against harassment and hate speech. In February, the company eliminated another 22 pages associated with it and its businesses. Jones has continually promoted conspiracy theories, including unsubstantiated arguments that the Sandy Hook primary school massacre never happened. His followers have harassed and harassed the families of the victims, requiring them to move frequently and live in hiding.
Watson is editor of Infowars and associate of Jones. Farrakhan is the leader of the Nation of Islam and is known for making anti-Semitic and inflammatory homophobic comments. Nehlen is a white supremacist politician who had previously been banned on Twitter. Yiannopoulos is a far right provocateur who was expelled from Twitter after inspiring a wave of racist abuse. Loomer is an extreme right-wing activist who recently called Islam "a cancer in humanity" in her Instagram story. (Instagram deleted the post)
Facebook did not disclose all the incidents that led to the elimination of the accounts, saying that it had made the decisions after a period of review. The decision took into account the group's behavior both on and off line, the company said. Factors for elimination included participation in acts of hatred or violence; demand or carry out acts of violence rooted in racial or ethnic prejudice; describing themselves as followers of an odious ideology; or using hate speech or insults on their profiles. Deleting pages or groups previously can also lead to the deletion of the account, Facebook said.
But the company pointed out some of the actions that led to the elimination of the accounts:
Facebook's decision comes amid a wave of far-right violence during the past year that included shootings in Pittsburgh; Christchurch, New Zealand; and Poway, CA. In the last two cases, the alleged shooters announced their attention at the 8chan hate forum and then used Facebook Live to broadcast their attacks. (The Poway shooter accidentally established his transmission in private). Facebook has been under increasing pressure to address the spread of hate speech on its platform, and to eliminate violent terrorist content created by murderers and their supporters.
Facebook started deleting the accounts at 1:30 p ET on Thursday, and some of them were still awake at the time of publication.
Update, 2:21 PM: An additional context was added on why some accounts were banned and it was noted that some pages were still available .