Alt-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, among other figures, have been removed from Facebook’s platforms, including Instagram.
Paul Joseph Watson, a popular YouTuber who works for InfoWars, white supremacist Paul Nehlen, who once ran for Congress, and Milo Yiannopoulos, a British political commentator, have all had their Instagram accounts terminated.
"We've always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology," Facebook said in a statement, according to The Verge. "The process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and it is what led us to our decision to remove these accounts today."
Many have challenged this decision, citing concerns that social media companies may abuse their power; other have criticized the companies for their dubious and vague criteria. Facebook and other corporations lack checks and balances, creating an environment that some say suppress dissent.
Angelo Carusone, president of the popular liberal watchdog group Media Matters, has praised the bans, saying, "The timing is never an accident." "The reality is, people are getting killed. There are mass shootings and mass murders that are clearly being connected to ideas like white genocide, which are fueling radicalization. The conditions have changed. When you have these massive catalyzing moments that are connected to real-life consequences, it puts pressure on Facebook and others to look in the mirror."
Paul Joseph Watson, one of the people banned from Facebook’s platforms, made a statement on Twitter saying that he never violated any rules.
Instagram released a statement saying that users “may still praise those [recently banned] figures on Instagram and share content related to them that doesn't violate other Instagram and Facebook terms of service," according to reporting in The Atlantic.