Facebook Bans Alex Jones
Infowars hate speech jerk gets the ax
After years of pressure from elected officials, users, and UCOMM, Facebook has finally decided to regulate some of the content that their users push out to the public. In a long-awaited move on Thursday, Facebook began banning extremist content, including one user who helped push dangerous conspiracy theories during the 2016 election.
The ban included major political leaders on the right like Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulus, Paul Joseph Watson, and Laura Loomer. Jones conspiracy theory website Infowars was also banned. Additionally, Facebook decided to ban the controversial Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. The bans extend to all of Facebook’s brands, meaning that they are also banned from Instagram and that their fan pages have been banned as well.
While a lot of attention has been placed on the recent purge of extremists on the platform, it wasn’t unexpected. Jones and Infowars, for example, were permanently banned from Twitter in September. Loomer was kicked off Twitter for her criticism of newly elected Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and her Muslim faith in November. She subsequently handcuffed herself to the front doors of Twitter’s New York office in protest of the decision.
In a statement from Facebook defending the removal of these accounts, the company said:
“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.”
According to The Atlantic, Infowars is facing the strictest ban.
“Any account that shares Infowars content will see it removed; unless the post is explicitly condemning Infowars. Facebook and Instagram will remove any content containing Infowars videos, radio segments, or articles, (unless the post is explicitly condemning the content) and Facebook will also remove any groups set up to share Infowars content and events promoting any of the banned extremist figures, according to a company spokesperson. (Twitter, YouTube, and Apple have also banned Jones and Infowars.)”
Infowars has been used by Jones and other conservatives to push a number of fake stories to a largely right-wing, extremist audience. Some of these include claiming that a number of mass shootings were faked including Sandy Hook and Parkland which led to victims and their families facing constant harassment from Infowars followers, multiple 9/11 conspiracies, and helped fuel the Pizzagate lie during the 2016 election.