Facebook bans Milo Yiannopoulos, Alex Jones, other 'dangerous' figures

Facebook announced Thursday that it has permanently banned a host of prominent figures it described as "dangerous" from its platform, including right-wing commentator and former Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

The platform said it has determined that those figures are "dangerous," and removed them under their policy barring individuals and groups that promote hateful and violent messages.

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The tech giant, which has been engaged in an escalating crackdown on hate speech and fear-mongering on its platforms, also removed neo-Nazi Paul Nehlen, who previously ran for the House in Wisconsin, far-right activist Laura Loomer and conservative YouTuber Paul Joseph Watson. 

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The individuals are all barred from Facebook as well as its image-sharing platform, Instagram. 

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

Facebook briefly suspended Jones and his media outlet, InfoWars, last year, but the Thursday ban extends to Instagram as well. Jones maintained a presence on the popular image-sharing platform since being kicked off Facebook. 

Watson, an editor at Jones' InfoWars, is a popular YouTuber with more than 1.6 million followers who regularly promotes anti-immigration conspiracy theories and rails against feminism. 
 
Farrakhan, an American black activist, has come under fire for comments considered anti-Semitic and homophobic. He recently compared Jewish people to termites in a viral video on Twitter.  
 
Loomer has made a career of promoting anti-Islam views and railing against tech companies, particularly Twitter, for their alleged censorship of conservative voices. Instagram recently removed a post in which Loomer called Islam a "cancer on humanity." 
 
Nehlen lost bids for the House in 2016 and 2018, running as a Republican against former Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanIndiana GOP Rep. Brooks says she won't seek reelection Indiana GOP Rep. Brooks says she won't seek reelection Inside Biden's preparations for first debate MORE in 2016. Nehlen was kicked off Twitter last year for posting racist and anti-Semitic material. 

Typically, when Facebook permanently bans individuals and groups from its platforms under its "dangerous individuals" policy, it also bars other users who use the platforms to amplify the messages of those who have been banned. 

But this time, it said it will not take action against users who praise any of the figures in question on Facebook or Instagram. Facebook said it will remove pages, groups and events tied to the banned individuals – for example, a speaking event featuring one of the figures named above.

The batch of bans comes as civil rights groups ramp up their calls for Facebook to remove hateful and extremist speech from its platforms.