Today, Facebook announced that it has banned several public figures from it’s platform, saying their behavior was “dangerous” and could cause potential harm to others.
One of those figures is Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam. Farrakhan’s removal from the platform most likely stems from some of his past comments regarding Jewish people. Just last year, Buzzfeed reported that Twitter refused to ban the religious leader after he tweeted a clip of him from a speech where he appeared to compare Jews to insects, saying that he wasn’t “anti-semite, but anti-termite”.
Here’s the clip below:
During a speech last year on Saviour’s Day, Farrakhan incited more controversy, calling Jews his enemies, among other things. The speech has actually been flagged by Youtube as being offensive. The Nation of Islam has also been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Facebook also banned far right figures such as Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Laura Loomer. Paul Nehlan, a former candidate for congress, was also banned.
Facebook made its decision by going through content previously posted by those banned and examining their behavior outside of of the platform. A Facebook spokesperson told CNN that it considered factors like whether or not an individual has ever tried to incite violence against people based on race or ethnicity.
Here’s a full rundown of the things that factored into the company’s decision, according to Oliver Darcy of CNN Business:
The Facebook spokesperson said such factors include whether the person or organization has ever called for violence against individuals based on race, ethnicity, or national origin; whether the person has been identified with a hateful ideology; whether they use hate speech or slurs in their about section on their social media profiles; and whether they have had pages or groups removed from Facebook for violating hate speech rules.-CNN
Most of the bans are solely for individuals, but Alex Jones and his organization, Info Wars, faced the harshest punishment. Not only are Jones and Info Wars banned from the platform, any accounts that share content from either will be banned as well. Jones has been previously banned from Facebook. Twitter, Youtube, and Apple have also banned him and his organization. Paul Watson, who is affiliated with InfoWars, has been banned as well.
The moves today show that Facebook may actually be cracking down on hate speech on its platform, something its been criticized for not taking seriously in the past. The spread of hate speech and content that incites violence is one of Facebook’s oldest problems and while these bans seem like a step in the right direction, people who want to post violent content will find ways to do so, as the Atlantic’s Taylor Lorenz pointed out.
This could be a sign that more bans like these are on the horizon as Facebook makes efforts to fix a lot of its other problems, like privacy and misinformation.