Facebook bans controversial black leader Louis Farrakhan, others in hate crackdown

Nation of Islam's Louis Farrakhan delivers a speech in Washington in 2017.
Nation of Islam's Louis Farrakhan delivers a speech in Washington in 2017.PHOTO: AFP
Social network Facebook is cracking down on hate content.
Social network Facebook is cracking down on hate content.PHOTO: REUTERS

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) -Facebook on Thursday (May 2) banned controversial black activist leader Louis Farrakhan, far-right icon Alex Jones and several others in a heightened crackdown on hate content at the leading social network.

"We've always banned individuals or organisations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology," Facebook said in a statement.

The most prominent to be banned were Farrakhan, head of the Nation of Islam, accused of being anti-Semitic and black supremacist; and Jones, the far-right conspiracy theorist best known for calling the 9/11 attacks an inside job and describing the Sandy Hook school massacre as a hoax.

Jones' organisation Infowars was also banned by Facebook.

Others banned on Thursday from Facebook and Instagram were Paul Nehlen, a political candidate espousing white supremacist views; Milo Yiannopoulos, known for neo-Nazi rhetoric; and conspiracy theorists Paul Joseph Watson and Laura Loomer.

Facebook announced the bans on the grounds they violated policies against dangerous individuals and organisations.

"Individuals and organisations who spread hate, or attack or call for the exclusion of others on the basis of who they are, have no place on Facebook," a spokeswoman for Facebook said.

 
 
 
 

Such bans typically include prohibiting others at the social network from using the platform to post praise or support from those no longer welcomed.

"Today's announcement from Facebook is a step in the right direction," said Cristina Lopez G, deputy director for extremism at nonprofit watchdog group Media Matters for America.

"The majority of the newly banned figures - Yiannopoulos, Loomer, Watson, Jones, and Nehlen - owed their influence to the massive reach they were allowed to cultivate through Facebook and Instagram."

Banning the accounts should help limit the spread of radical and often violent far-right ideology, according to Lopez.

Facebook last month banned various far-right British groups including the English Defence League from its network for promoting hate and violence.

Other groups kicked off both Facebook or Instagram last month included Knights Templar International, Britain First, the British National Party (BNP) and the National Front.

The tech titan banned the groups for contravening its policy forbidding "terrorist activity, organised hate, mass or serial murder, human trafficking or organized violence or criminal activity".

Former BNP leader Nick Griffin and Britain First leaders Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen were also been banned in the crackdown.