Facebook took serious measures today against well-known members of the far-right and public figures who have made anti-Semitic remarks by banning them — including Louis Farrakhan, Milo Yiannapoulos and Infowars’ Alex Jones.
“Today we’re removing Louis Farrakhan, Alex Jones, Paul Nehlen, Milo Yiannopoulos, Paul Joseph Watson, Laura Loomer and Infowars from Facebook and Instagram under our policies against dangerous individuals & organizations,” a spokesperson for Facebook tells PEOPLE. “All representation of these people and entities will be removed from our services.”
“We’ve always banned individuals or organizations that proclaim a violent or hateful mission or are engaged in acts of hate or violence,” the statement continues. “This is true regardless of ideology or motivation.”
Representatives for Farrakhan, Jones, Nehlen, Yiannopoulos, Loomer and Infowars did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Since news of his ban dropped, Watson tweeted, “Reports are true. I have been banned by Facebook. Was given no reason. I broke none of their rules. In an authoritarian society controlled by a handful of Silicon Valley giants, all dissent must be purged.”
And Loomer wrote in an article titled “I Am Now The Most Banned Woman In The World” on her personal site, “Today I was censored by the most powerful corporation in the world for defending my people and exercising my rights.”
Facebook said it has undergone an “extensive process” for determining whether people or groups are dangerous by looking at potential signals.
These include calling for or directly carrying out “acts of violence” against people “based on factors like race, ethnicity or national origin,” being “a self-described or identified follower of a hateful ideology,” using “hate speech or slurs” in their About section, or if “they’ve had Pages or Groups removed from Facebook, or accounts removed from Instagram, for posting content that goes against our hate speech policies.”
“When we ban someone under these policies, we have historically also prohibited anyone else from praising or supporting them on our sites – even if the praise is unrelated to their hateful or violent conduct,” the spokesperson continues. “For people who have called for violence, formally affiliated themselves with organized hate groups, or taken other extreme steps to express hatred, we continue to think this is the right approach.”
And while Facebook thinks “the right thing to do is to prevent” those they’ve banned from using their services, but not to “restrict the speech of other people who might praise them.”
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In terms of what this ban entails, the spokesperson elaborated: “We’ll remove Pages, Groups and accounts set up to represent them and Facebook events when we know the individual is participating. Our work against organized hate is on-going and we will continue to review individuals, Pages, groups and content against our Community Standards.”
Jones’ banning comes after years of him suggesting the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, was staged by the government using crisis actors in order to take guns away from citizens.
In the wake of a defamation suit brought against him by the victims and their families, he has since blamed his 2012 Sandy Hook mass shooting conspiracy theories on “psychosis.”
“I, myself, have almost had like a form of psychosis back in the past where I basically thought everything was staged, even though I’m now learning a lot of times things aren’t staged,” he said in a three-hour long deposition on March 14, posted by the Texas law firm Kaster Lynch Farrar & Ball, LLP.