Facebook bans 'dangerous individuals'

From left, pictured: Milo Yiannopoulous, Alex Jones and Louis Farrakhan Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption Milo Yiannopoulous, Alex Jones and Louis Farrakhan have all been banned

Facebook is banning several prominent figures it regards as "dangerous individuals".

The social network accused Alex Jones, host of right-wing conspiracy website InfoWars, its UK editor Paul Joseph Watson and ex-Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos of hate speech.

Louis Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam leader who has expressed anti-Semitic views, will also be excluded.

Facebook has already banned anti-Islamic UK groups like Britain First.

The latest ban also applies on Instagram, which Facebook owns.

"We’ve always banned individuals or organisations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology,” the company said in a statement.

"The process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and it is what led us to our decision to remove these accounts today."

The banned group also includes Paul Nehlen, a white supremacist, and Laura Loomer, an anti-Islamic activist with a large social media presence.

In November, Ms Loomer handcuffed herself to a Twitter building in New York in protest at being banned from that platform.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Laura Loomer is among those banned from the platform
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption White supremacist Paul Nehlen, right, has twice run in Republican primaries

However, Facebook has been criticised for giving forewarning of the bans, giving those affected a chance to redirect their followers to other services.

For a brief time on Thursday, Alex Jones was broadcasting, on Facebook, about his impending ban.

“I’m about to be banned," wrote Mr Yiannopoulos to his followers on Instagram. "Please sign up for my mailing list before this account disappears."

A spokesperson at Facebook said the ban will apply to all types of representation of the individuals on both Facebook and Instagram.

The firm said it would remove pages, groups and accounts set up to represent them, and would not allow the promotion of events when it knows the banned individual is participating.

In an email, Facebook explained its rationale for banning the users:

  • It said Alex Jones had hosted on his programme Gavin McInnes, leader of the Proud Boys, whose members are known for racist, anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric. Mr McInnes has been designated a "hate figure" by Facebook
  • Facebook said this year Milo Yiannopoulos had publicly praised both Mr McInnes and English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson, both banned from the network
  • Laura Loomer also appeared with Mr McInnes, and Facebook said she also praised another banned figure, Faith Goldy, a Canadian
  • Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan was banned for making several anti-Semitic remarks earlier this year

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