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Facebook bans Alex Jones, Yiannopoulos

They're also blocked from Instagram

FILE PHOTO: Alex Jones of Infowars talks to the media while visiting the U.S. Senate’s Dirksen Senate office building as Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 5, 2018. Picture taken September 5, 2018. REUTERS/Jim Bourg/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Alex Jones of Infowars talks to the media while visiting the U.S. Senate’s Dirksen Senate office building as Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 5, 2018. Picture taken September 5, 2018. REUTERS/Jim Bourg/File Photo

SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook said it’s banning a number of controversial far-right figures, including Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos and Laura Loomer, for violating the social-media company’s policies on hate speech and promoting violence.

The company also is blocking religious leader Louis Farrakhan, who is known for sharing anti-Semitic views; Paul Nehlen, a white nationalist who ran for Congress in 2018; and conspiracy theorist Paul Joseph Watson.

All these individuals and accounts that represent them also are banned from photo-sharing app Instagram.

“We’ve always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology,” a Facebook representative said Thursday 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 often is chided for failing to stop the spread of harmful speech and misinformation on its platform, and Thursday’s bans show that the company is taking a firmer hand in enforcing its own service terms.

Even so, the moves are bound to draw criticism from media and politicians on the far right.

Facebook has been accused numerous times of suppressing conservative voices.

The company denies its decisions are based on politics, and says these individuals repeatedly have violated its policies around hate speech and promoting violence.

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The Menlo Park, Calif.-based company didn’t give details on what led to the bans this week, though a spokesperson said that Jones, Yiannopoulos and Loomer have recently promoted Gavin McInnes, founder of the violence-prone far-right group the Proud Boys, whom Facebook banned in October.

When it comes to dangerous individuals who promote hate speech or violence, Facebook can ban users for actions they take in the real world, or on other services, such as YouTube.

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