Facebook announced that it has banned far-right antagonists such as InfoWars host Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, Louis Farrakhan, and Laura Loomer for conduct Facebook believes is “dangerous” on social media.
You may recall Facebook’s banning of Jones last July, for behavior that Facebook said violated their “Community Standards.” I’m sure it wasn’t helped by Jones, who at that time, was threatening to murder Robert Mueller and claimed that Mueller was a pedophile.
Louis Farrakhan, the leader of Nation of Islam (a hate group), is well-known for promoting antisemitic ideas.
Other people banned on Thursday included Paul Nehlen, an anti-Semite who unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2016 and 2018, and fringe right-wing media personalities Laura Loomer, Milo Yiannopoulos and Paul Joseph Watson.
“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.”
A Facebook spokesperson told CNN Business the company goes through a lengthy process and takes into consideration a number of factors before determining an individual to be “dangerous.”
It’s a bit concerning that people who can’t manage to be straightforward with protecting our data are deciding who can and can’t use their platform, but in their limited application in this instance, I don’t see any problems. You’re free to say whatever thoughts you have in your head on social media, however if it is blatantly false, or impacts the safety of others, then you don’t deserve a seat at the grown up’s table. Especially if you’re going to throw out made-up bullshit like how you had a “form of psychosis” while spouting off lies about Sandy Hook (and making a lot of money from advertisers in the process).
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.
In some instances, when Facebook bans an individual or organization, it also restricts others from expressing praise or support for them on its platforms, the spokesperson said, adding that the company continues to view such action as the correct approach. That policy may not apply to any or all of the people banned Thursday, however.
I am all for protecting people’s ability to freely share information. The only way to overcome bad ideas is by replacing them with better ones. We’re all very familiar with what happens when an authority figure tries to stamp out a really, really bad ideology using force.
But in the case of people like Alex Jones, it’s not simply a “battle of ideas.” They are lying. Things that are not true do not fall under the umbrella of being part of an ideology. They’re just false statements. He’s spreading things that are not true.
When a platform is used by someone in a way to repeatedly spread demonstrably false information and when they repeatedly encourages violence, they forfeit their ability to use that platform. Sites like InfoWars, and people like Alex Jones, have repeatedly done these things and do not deserve to have a voice on these platforms.