On Thursday, Facebook and Instagram (which is owned by Facebook, Inc.) permanently banned “dangerous individuals and organizations” from their platforms. Infowars founder Alex Jones, self-described investigative journalist Laura Loomer, Infowars’ Paul Joseph Watson, provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan were among those included in the de-platforming.
“We’ve always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology,” a statement from a Facebook representative said, according to The New York Times. “The process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and it is what led us to our decision to remove these accounts today.”
As highlighted by The Washington Examiner, the mainstream media went out of their way to label Farrakhan as a “far-right leader” when reporting the censorship:
The New York Times, the Washington Post, Politico, and the Atlantic were among news organizations that used this description of Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam and a virulent anti-Semite who has long been associated with left-wing politics. After receiving almost immediate criticism for the “right-wing” characterization on social media, outlets scrambled their articles.
Watson, one of the only purged personalities who still maintains a Twitter account, reacted to the act of censorship in a series of tweets. “Reports are true. I have been banned by Facebook. Was given no reason. I broke none of their rules,” he wrote. “In an authoritarian society controlled by a handful of Silicon Valley giants, all dissent must be purged.”
Watson suggested Loomer was contemplating suicide over the de-platforming. “Laura Loomer is now basically making thinly veiled suicide threats because of the way she has been treated. And many on here will laugh. Yet we’re the ‘hateful’ ones. OK,” Watson wrote. “I hope Laura is going to be fine; her friends should check on her.”
Jones had his Twitter account permanently banned in September after he confronted a CNN reporter about his de-platforming from other tech companies, CNBC reported at the time: “The ban appears to be related to a heated exchange between Jones and a CNN reporter Wednesday, which Jones live streamed on the Twitter-owned video service Periscope. Jones ranted at the reporter, as well as Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, following back-to-back congressional hearings where Dorsey addressed online election meddling, as well as accusations of political bias and conservative censorship on the platform.”
Twitter said in a statement that they “took this action based on new reports of Tweets and videos … that violate our abusive behavior policy, in addition to the accounts’ past violations.”
As Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro noted in August, soon after Apple, Facebook, and YouTube decided to remove content from Infowars in an apparently coordinated effort, the censorship “is a problem.”
“It’s a problem because these policies are extraordinarily vague,” he wrote. “These policies aren’t merely designed to crack down on speech openly advocating or threatening violence, or containing obscenity. These policies are deliberately unclear as well as political.”
Shapiro underscored how so-called “hate speech” is completely subjective:
What, for example, constitutes “hate speech”? Much of what Jones and his employees say is absolutely rotten pig excrement, but there’s no definition of hate speech that has a limiting principle. Is it “using dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender” to state that transgender people suffer from a mental disorder? Or that they are not in fact members of the gender to which they claim membership? What constitutes “hate speech” when discussing the relationship between radical Islam and terrorism? None of this has been made clear.
“How exactly are we supposed to trust in free and open debate when those setting the limits are openly setting them up with embedded double-standards?” Shapiro asked. “The answer is, we don’t. Trust in social media is declining nearly as fast as trust in media overall. There’s a reason for that. And it’s not because social media tolerates voices like Jones. It’s because they don’t tolerate voices like Jones while tolerating voices who are just as bad on the political Left – and they show no signs of limiting their censorship to Alex Jones.”