Louis Farrakhan, Alex Jones banned from Facebook, Instagram for hate speech
Facebook, which owns Instagram, says the pair and others violated policies against hate and violence
Facebook has banned Louis Farrakhan, Alex Jones and others from its main service and from Instagram, saying they violated the company's ban against hate and violence.
The company said Thursday that it has also banned far-right figures Paul Nehlen, Milo Yiannopoulos, Paul Joseph Watson and Laura Loomer, along with Jones' site, Infowars.
The latest bans apply to Facebook, Instagram and extend to fan pages and other related accounts. Facebook previously suspended Jones from its flagship service temporarily; this suspension is now permanent and includes Instagram.
Facebook says the newly banned accounts violated its policy against dangerous individuals and organizations. The company says it has "always banned" people or groups that proclaim a violent or hateful mission or are engaged in acts of hate or violence, regardless of political ideology.
For years, social media companies have been under pressure from civil rights groups to clamp down on hate speech on their services.
Following the deadly white nationalist protests in Charlottesville, S.C., in 2017, Google, Facebook and PayPal began banishing groups and individuals who identified as or supported white supremacists.
A year later, widespread bans of Jones and Infowars reflected a more aggressive enforcement of policies against hate speech. But Facebook instituted only a 30-day suspension.
It is not clear what events led to Thursday's announcement. In a statement, Facebook merely said the "process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and it is what led us to our decision to remove these accounts today."
The social media giant has been under heavy pressure to rid its service of hate and content expressing extreme views. Last month, it extended its ban on hate speech to prohibit the promotion and support of white nationalism and white separatism. It had previously allowed such material even though it has long banned white supremacists.
Ban angers Jones
Jones reacted angrily Thursday during a live stream of his show on his Infowars website.
"They didn't just ban me. They just defamed us. Why did Zuckerberg even do this?" Jones said, referring to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Jones called himself a victim of "racketeering" by "cartels."
"There's a new world now, man, where they're banning everybody and then they tell Congress nobody is getting banned," he said.
Watson, meanwhile, tweeted that he was not given a reason and that he "broke none of their rules."
"Hopefully, other prominent conservatives will speak out about me being banned, knowing that they are next if we don't pressure the Trump administration to take action," he wrote.
Asked to comment on the bans, Yiannopoulos emailed only, "You're next."
Farrakhan, Nehlen and Loomer did not immediately return messages from The Associated Press for comment.
With files from CBC News