It’s not exactly a secret that Facebook has allowed conspiracy theorists, white supremacists and hate speech to run rampant on its multi-billion dollar platform. But in an effort to curtail all of the above, on Thursday, the social media juggernaut made the surprising announcement to permanently ban InfoWars host Alex Jones and right-ring media personalities Milo Yiannopoulos, Laura Loomer and Paul Joseph Watson.
Oh, wait. I forgot somebody.
Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan—who Facebook deems as “dangerous”—is banned too.
As for its rationale behind this decision, Facebook provided the following statement to CNN Business:
“We’ve always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement provided to CNN Business. “The process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and it is what led us to our decision to remove these accounts today.”
Also according to CNN Business, Facebook stands behind its “lengthy process” and “takes into consideration a number of factors” before determining an individual to be “dangerous.”
The Facebook spokesperson said such factors include whether the person or organization has ever called for violence against individuals based on race, ethnicity, or national origin; whether the person has been identified with a hateful ideology; whether they use hate speech or slurs in their about section on their social media profiles; and whether they have had pages or groups removed from Facebook for violating hate speech rules
The bans went into effect at 1:30 PM ET on Thursday.
The Verge reports that while they’ll be prohibited from creating new accounts, Facebook and Instagram users are permitted to continue creating posts praising them and their viewpoints.
Jones in particular is no stranger to getting booted off platforms. He’s been exiled from YouTube, Apple, Spotify, PayPal, Vimeo and just about every other platform in existence—but his relationship with Facebook specifically has been quite contentious.
Last year, he was was suspended for violating Facebook’s rules against bullying and hate speech. And earlier this year, in February, the company rid itself of 22 pages associated with him and his businesses.
The Verge also listed specific incidents that Facebook cited as justification for the permanent bans it imposed on Thursday:
- First in December and again in February, Jones appeared in videos with Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes. Facebook has designated McInnes as a hate figure.
- Yiannopoulos publicly praised McInnes and British far-right activist Tommy Robinson, who Facebook has designated as a hate figure.
- Loomer appeared with McInnes in December, and more recently declared her support for far-right activist Faith Goldy, who was banned after posting racist videos to her account.
Ironically enough, Farrakhan published the following tweet hours before the his ban was announced:
“All of us are going to experience misfortunes in this life,” he tweeted to his 336,000 followers. “How do you handle it?”
Farrakhan has repeatedly come under fire for making anti-Semitic and homophobic remarks, which reached a fever pitch last year when Women’s March co-chair Tamika Mallory refused to publicly condemn him despite immense pressure to do so. She did, however, state that on The View that his viewpoints aren’t in alignment with her own.
“To be very clear, it’s not my language. It’s not the way that I speak, it’s not how I organize,” Mallory said. “And I think it is very clear over the 20 years of my own personal activism, my own personal track record, who I am, and I should never be judged through the lens of a man.”
Facebook also intends to remove groups, pages and accounts created to represent the banned individuals if the individual is participating in the effort to do so.
Louis Farrakhan has yet to publicly comment.