Facebook bans Louis Farrakhan, Alex Jones from platform

Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, speaks at the Staples Center on April 11, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (AFP photo)
US social media company Facebook has banned Louis Farrakhan , a controversial African American activist and leader of the Nation of Islam, saying it was an attempt to crack down on hate content on its platform.

The largest social networking company in the world also banned conservative journalist and Infowars founder Alex Jones.

"We've always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology," Facebook, which has been under growing pressure to curtail extremist content, said in a statement on Thursday.

"Individuals and organizations who spread hate, or attack or call for the exclusion of others on the basis of who they are, have no place on Facebook," a spokeswoman for Facebook said.

Among the most prominent figures banned was Farrakhan, an outspoken opponent of Israel and the widespread influence of Jews in the US.

In November, Farrakhan made a solidarity trip to Iran, where he told Iranian students that “America has never been a democracy.”

He has blasted US President Donald Trump’s policies in the Middle East, saying the US is trying to create further division between Shias and Sunnis in the region.Jones, who was also banned, has accused the administration of former US President George W. Bush of carrying out the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Jones's organization Infowars was also banned by Facebook.

Facebook said those being banned had violated policies against dangerous individuals and organizations.

Such bans typically include prohibiting others at the social network from using the platform to post praise or support from those no longer welcomed.

Jones told The Washington Post that Facebook's actions were "authoritarian," saying that they never gave him any direct notice that they found his posts "dangerous."

Some free speech advocates have warned that Facebook's attempts to censor dissent could lead to unintended consequences.