Last week, Facebook announced they are banning high profile extremists from Instagram and Facebook. Good move. Overdue, of course. But how effective will it be in limiting the spread of hate speech and fake news?
Who’s on The List?
There are white supremacists, right-wing media personalities, Islamophobes and anti-Semites in the mix of people being cancelled.
The list of extremists banned includes Alex Jones (right-wring conspiracy theorist and internet hoaxer), his media outlet Infowars, Milo Yiannopoulos (far-right media personality), Louis Farrakhan (Nation of Islam leader), Paul Nehlen (anti-Semite), Paul Joseph Watson and Laura Loomer (vocal Islamophobe), The Cut reports.
But it seems that the news was announced before all these accounts were actually banned (smh). This gave these controversial figures time to promote themselves (and redirect followers to newsletters and Telegram) before they were cancelled.
Some outlets reported Facebook’s banning of accounts as fact today, without checking if those actual accounts have already been taken offline. Here’s one that’s still up. pic.twitter.com/9vMdV6JrT3
— Ryan Mac (@RMac18) May 2, 2019
Less Hate Speech and Fake News on Social Media?
Could we be looking at a safer, more sanitised social media? Maybe. Facebook argues that they’ve always banned accounts/individuals that spew violence and hate, no matter the ideology. CNN reports on Facebook’s statement:
“The process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and it is what led us to our decision to remove these accounts today.”
Not only will these people be banned, but if you support these banned accounts, you may also have your content restricted. Who knows? This might make it that much harder to spread hate speech and fake news.
What Are Their Cancelling Criteria?
So, what do they classify as extremism? What are the reasons for banning these accounts specifically and considering them dangerous? CNN reports that it includes whether:
- “the person or organization has ever called for violence against individuals based on race, ethnicity, or national origin”
- “the person has been identified with a hateful ideology”
- “they use hate speech or slurs in their about section on their social media profiles”
- “they have had pages or groups removed from Facebook for violating hate speech rules”
With the never-ending free speech vs hate speech debate, this is bound to get mixed reactions. But overall, it seems like something that should have happened a long time ago.
Now, can we add abusers to that list, please? We’re waiting.
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