Facebook Bans Paul Joseph Watson, Milo Yiannopoulos, Laura Loomer, Louis Farrakhan
Crackdown comes after years of repeated site violations.
Facebook said it banned several far-right accounts on Thursday, citing “dangerous” behavior. Paul Joseph Watson, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Laura Loomer are among those purged.
Two anti-Semitic political figures, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and failed Republican congressional candidate Paul Nehlen, were also banned. Alex Jones and Infowars, which were already banned from Facebook, are now banned from Instagram.
“We've always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology," a Facebook spokesperson told The Daily Beast. "The process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and it is what led us to our decision to remove these accounts today.”
The accounts were live at the time of the announcement, but started going dark shortly thereafter. During the interim time, some users bemoaned the bans and asked fans to follow them on personal websites or newsletters.
Facebook has previously faced pressure to bar far-right accounts that promote hate or violence. In August, the social media site banned Jones and Infowars for violating rules against hate speech and glorifying violence. But the bans didn't affect everyone. Some Infowars associates like Watson, and other far-right figures, continued to break site rules.
Infowars was previously allowed to stay on Instagram, a Facebook-owned social media company. But the bans will reportedly affect Instagram, too.
Until recently, Instagram admitted that some of the users violated its rules against hate speech or violence, but declined to remove them. Last month, the company told The Daily Beast that Loomer had broken its rules with a long video attacking Muslim-American Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN). Loomer called Islam “cancer” and called to criminalize Muslims holding office. Although Instagram said the video violated its policies, it declined to ban Loomer, whose followers responded with death threats against Omar.
Instagram has also previously admitted that Yiannopoulos used his platform to glorify violence. When a Trump supporter sent mail bombs to CNN and several prominent Trump critics last year, Yiannopulous uploaded a picture with the caption “Just catching up with news of all these pipe bombs. Disgusting and sad (that they didn’t go off, and the daily beast didn’t get one).”
Instagram initially said the picture did not violate its content guidelines. It later reversed course, deleting the post and stating that it broke rules against "celebration or praise of crimes committed."