Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) has barred a number of high-profile people from its platforms after designating them as “dangerous”. All of the accounts, fan pages, and groups associated with the individuals have been purged from Facebook and Instagram. Facebook said in a statement, “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.”
Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist and founder of Infowars, was one of the high-profile people banned from the platforms. Jones has hosted Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes on his show and was recently sued for peddling a conspiracy theory about the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting for years. The ban also applies to Infowars, Jones’ conspiracy-peddling organization.
Another target was provocateur and far-right media personality Milo Yiannopoulos. Paul Joseph Watson, a British member of the alt-right who works with Infowars; Ohio Republican Paul Nehlen, who is known his anti-Semitic and white nationalist views; and right-wing media personality Laura Loomer have also been banned from the platforms. Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, widely regarded as an anti-Semitic figure, also saw his accounts kicked.
A Facebook spokesperson said the company considers a number of factors before determining an individual to be “dangerous.” Some of those factors include whether the person or organization has ever called for violence against individuals based on race, ethnicity, or national origin and whether they have had pages or groups removed from Facebook for violating hate speech rules. The company says that it applies its policies against dangerous individuals and organizations without regard to ideology or motivation.
In recent months, Facebook has escalated enforcement of its content policies by taking down some of the more controversial accounts on its platforms. The company has been criticized for failing to apply its rules consistently across Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp., which combined have more than 2.7 billion people regularly using them. The company said it will continue to review pages, groups, content and individuals for potential violations of its hate policies.