Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer of Facebook Inc., speaks during the Facebook F8 Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, March 25, 2015. Zuckerberg plans to unveil tools that let application makers reach the social network's audience while helping the company boost revenue. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
San Francisco | After years of pressure to crack down on extremist content, Facebook has banned Louis Farrakhan, Alex Jones and other extremists, saying they violated its ban against hate and violence.
The company also banned right-wing leaders Paul Nehlen, Milo Yiannopoulos, Paul Joseph Watson and Laura Loomer, along with Jones’ site, Infowars. The latest bans apply to both Facebook’s main service and to Instagram and extend to fan pages and other related accounts.
Decried as censorship by several of those who got the axe, the move signals a renewed effort by the social media giant to remove objectionable material – and individuals – promoting hate, racism and anti-Semitism.
Removing some of the best-known figures of the US political extreme takes away an important virtual megaphone that Facebook has provided the likes of Jones, Yiannopoulos and others over the years.
Critics praised the move, but said there is more to be done on both Facebook and Instagram.
“We know that there are still white supremacists and other extremist figures who are actively using both platforms to spread their hatred and bigotry,” said Keegan Hankes, senior research analyst for the Southern Poverty Law Centre, which tracks hate groups in the US
Facebook has previously suspended Jones from its flagship service temporarily; this suspension is permanent and includes Instagram.
Facebook says the newly banned accounts violated its policy against dangerous individuals and organisations. The company says it has “always banned” people or groups that proclaim a violent or hateful mission or are engaged in acts of hate or violence, regardless of political ideology.