Facebook Bans Extremist Leaders ❌

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

FBanned

Facebook announced Thursday that it would be purging several high-profile individuals from all of its platforms (including Instagram). These individuals include Alex Jones of InfoWars, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, and right-wing media personalities Milo Yiannopoulos and Laura Loomer.

What warrants removal?

A spokesperson for Facebook explained that the company engages in an “extensive” evaluative process before removing accounts determined to be “dangerous.” They consider a number of factors — for example, whether the person or organization has used hate speech, called for racial violence, or shown support and affiliation for other accounts Facebook has banned. This comes as part of Facebook’s redesign to become “more trustworthy.”


LEANING RIGHT:

Washington Examiner: Media outlets label Louis Farrakhan a 'far-right leader'

Daily Caller: WaPo, Atlantic rush to change stories after labeling Louis Farrakhan ‘far right’ in Facebook ban story

Some on the right report the news with largely the same attention as outlets from the left. Others focus almost exclusively on mainstream media’s initial labelling of Farrakhan as a “far-right leader.” They point out that the Nation of Islam leader has a long history of associating with the left, and argue that this mistake reveals leftist media’s desire to target the political right.

LEANING LEFT:

PBS Newshour: Facebook bans Alex Jones, Louis Farrakhan for hate speech

Vox: Facebook bans Alex Jones, Infowars, Louis Farrakhan, and others it deems “dangerous”

Some on the left gently applaud Facebook’s policy change, which they characterize as both a move in the right direction and a not-so-subtle ploy to get some good press. These articles aren’t ready to exonerate Facebook for their questionable choices in the recent past, but give the company credit for trying to improve the environment promoted by their platforms. Others chastise Facebook for the sloppy rollout of their ban and question the implications of imposing silence onto already angry social groups.


Where's the common ground?

Reactions to this story are incredibly varied. Many are still openly unsure of how to feel, and about what this means in the contexts of power, accountability, technology, and ideology. Both sides can be seen grappling with the question of how society (let alone private social media companies) should handle extreme but vocal minorities. Both sides cringe at Facebook’s awkward rollout of the ban.

Facebook next week

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