Facebook Wades Deeper into Censorship Debate as it Bans 'Dangerous' Accounts

05/02/2019 02:51 PM EDT, Politico
Photo credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Facebook had removed pages belonging to Alex Jones in August 2018, but did not ban the Infowars leader until Thursday.

Facebook on Thursday banned from its flagship social network and its subsidiary Instagram a series of incendiary political figures, including Infowars Chief Alex Jones and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan — a move some critics scoffed at as belated but that free speech advocates warned could raise thorny content moderation issues.

The social media giant has drawn broad criticism from across the political spectrum over its attempts to curb harmful content. Critics on the left have said Facebook and other tech platforms are failing to thwart the spread of hate speech; those on the right argue tech's approach to content-policing stifles free speech and disproportionately targets conservatives. Neither camp appeared quelled by Thursday's move, which the company said was to crack down on violations of its policies against "dangerous individuals" and organizations.

"Facebook just announced they are finally banning Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos and other racist conspiracy theorists," tweeted Christopher Wylie, the whistleblower who triggered the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. "Let’s not forget that a mere 10 months ago, they were defending these same people’s right to publish their hateful disinformation and harass Sandy Hook families."

On the other hand, Dan Gainor of the Media Research Center, a conservative tech and media watchdog, praised the removal of Farrakhan but bemoaned the company’s other actions. “It's unfortunate that online speech doesn't have enough room for controversial views,” he said in an email.


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