Facebook announced on Thursday that the social media website would be banning several high-profile individuals from both the Facebook and Instagram platforms due to said users violating the company’s policy regarding “dangerous individuals and organizations”.

Those banned from the platform include Infowars founder Alex Jones, Infowars editor Paul Joseph Watson, conservative speaker Milo Yiannopolous, conservative activist Laura Loomer, failed US congressional candidate Paul Nehlen, and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. A Facebook spokesperson issued a statement clarifying that these bans were not based on ideology, but out of a desire to curb “violence and hate”:

“We’ve always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology. The process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and it is what led us to our decision to remove these accounts today,”

Curiously, in their coverage of this story, The Washington Post initially stated that these individuals had been banned for being “far-right,” including Farrakhan. This has since prompted a correction and a change of headline.

The Atlantic reports:

“Infowars is subject to the strictest ban. Facebook and Instagram will remove any content containing Infowars videos, radio segments, or articles (unless the post is explicitly condemning the content), and Facebook will also remove any groups set up to share Infowars content and events promoting any of the banned extremist figures, according to a company spokesperson.”

Though Facebook usually removes posts praising or supporting a banned individual or organization, a spokesperson has stated that users will still be able to positively discuss the individuals, though sharing their views or opinions would still violate Facebook’s policies concerning hate speech and calls to violence.

However, when the ban was announced and various news outlets reported on the decision as part of an embargo drop (wherein news outlets are prevented from reporting on an item until a designated time, and subsequently and simultaneously all release their coverage on the item at the given time), members of the public found that some of the specified users did not have their accounts banned at the time of the announcement, giving said users the time and platform to direct their followers to alternative outlets where they could be found:

Facebook did not disclose what specific incidents, if any, led to the mass of publicly lauded bans.

What do you make of Facebook’s bans? Do you think this is a dangerous move or a good thing?

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