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Facebook Will Purge Farrakhan, Alex Jones And Far-Right Pundits

Facebook will ban Nation of Islam Leader Louis Farrakhan, InfoWars’ Alex Jones and a number of far-right figureheads from their platform the social media site announced Thursday afternoon.

The figures being removed from the platform, CNN reports, were deemed “dangerous” by the website.

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

The other accounts being banned include far-right figures Jewish “citizen journalist” Laura Loomer, Milo Yiannopoulos and InfoWars editor Paul Joseph Watson. Paul Nehlen, an anti-Semitic white supremacist who ran an unsuccessful campaign for a Republican House seat in 2016 and 2018, was also scrubbed from the website.

The process at Facebook for determining if an individual or organization is “dangerous” involves a consideration of whether the individual or organization has called for violence against individuals based on race, ethnicity or national origin, a spokesperson told CNN. Facebook also considers whether the individual being looked into has used hate speech or slurs on their profiles or have been linked to a hateful ideology. The company also examines whether the person or organization has had pages or groups flagged and removed for violating Facebook’s hate speech policies.

When Facebook does decide to bar an individual or organization from their website, they sometimes restrict non-banned users from praising or voicing support for those kicked off the site, the spokesperson told CNN. This does not mean that such an action will go into effect for the banned individuals named Thursday.

Farrakhan, a controversial but much-respected leader for his role in the civil rights movement, is arguably the most high profile victim of the Facebook purge. While many have distanced themselves from him due to his history of virulently anti-Semitic, homophobic and transphobic remarks, the Nation of Islam leader often appears at significant public events and progressive leaders such as Tamika Mallory of The Women’s March have rejected calls to censure him.

PJ Grisar is the Forward’s culture intern. He can be reached at Grisar@Forward.com.

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