Controversial right-wing personalities like Alex Jones were banned from Facebook and Instagram on Friday. The figures also included Milo Yiannoupolis and Laura Loomer, avowed far-right commentators who are well-known for their combative and confrontational personalities. The bans also extend to Facebook-owned photo-sharing app, Instagram.
Far-Right Bans Laid Down by Facebook, Instagram
The reasoning behind the banning, as stated by Facebook, was that the people in question violated their terms of service and community guidelines. As Facebook puts it, Alex Jones and the other figures represent dangerous ideologies and as such banned them. For comparison, the platform also banned Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, as well as numerous other figures from all sides of the political spectrum.
“We’ve always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology,” went a Facebook statement following the bans. “The process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and it is what led us to our decision to remove these accounts today.”
Facebook noted that part of the reasoning behind the banning of Jones included his show hosting Gavin McInnes, founder of the Proud Boys and known “white nationalist”. This move highlights Facebook’s increasing attempts to take responsibility for the voices of hate on their platform.
There was some outcry regarding the banning on Facebook and Twitter among various far-right groups. Many complained that the move violated the First Amendment rights of the banned individuals, including notable Twitter personalities. However, this is a misunderstanding of the First Amendment, which protects speech from censorship by the government.
As neither Facebook nor Instagram are governmental agencies, their moves have no interaction with the Bill of Rights. Oddly, their moves to ban people from their platforms on the basis of violating terms of service line up neatly with normal Conservative values that include lack of government oversight into private industry.