3 May 2019

Facebook bans Infowars founder Alex Jones and other far-right figures

11:09 am on 3 May 2019

Facebook has permanently banned Infowars founder Alex Jones, far right provocateurs Milo Yannopoulous and Laura Loomer and other prominent far-right figures from its platform.

Alex Jones speaks with reporters outside as Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on 5 September 2018.

Alex Jones of Infowars, who advances conspiracy theories on divisive topics including school shootings and immigration, is now banned from Facebook and Instagram. Photo: AFP

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

The bans follow a previous announcement that the company wasn't going to allow white nationalism and separatism on its platform anymore.

Another far-right figure affected by the ban is white nationalist Paul Nehlen.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 16, 2017, Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan delivers a speech at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, DC.

Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, is now banned from Facebook because of his anti-Semitic views. Photo: AFP

Also banned is Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, who has been criticised for his frequent anti-Semitic remarks.

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," a Facebook spokesperson told Variety. "The process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and it is what led us to our decision to remove these accounts today."

The company told reporters that it was banning official accounts maintained by these users, and that it would also take down any supporter accounts set up in their likeness.

Facebook reserved the toughest measures for Mr Jones and his Infowars empire, which frequently spread conspiracy theories on divisive topics including school shootings and immigration. It will also take down any Infowars content posted to its platform by any of its users, and any groups meant to spread Infowars content.

The banned group also includes Ms 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.

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, Mr 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."

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

- Reuters / BBC

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