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Facebook bans Alex Jones, other extremist figures

Facebook bans Alex Jones, other extremist figures

Postby smix » Thu May 02, 2019 11:55 pm

Facebook bans Alex Jones, other extremist figures
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-face ... SKCN1S82D7
Category: Politics
Published: May 2, 2019

Description: SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Facebook Inc said on Thursday it was banning Alex Jones and other controversial U.S. political personalities for violating the social media company’s policies on “dangerous individuals and organizations.” Most of the individuals whose accounts are being removed are popular figures on the far right, including commentators Milo Yiannopoulos, Laura Loomer and Paul Joseph Watson. Facebook also said it is banning Paul Nehlen, an avowed white supremacist who ran for Congress in 2018, and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who has preached black separatism and referred to Jews as “termites. The company will remove any accounts, pages, groups and events associated with the banned individuals, both on its core social network and its photo-sharing app Instagram. It says it bans any users who promote violence or hate. However, Facebook stopped short of prohibiting other users from praising or supporting the banned individuals on its platforms, as it has done for militant groups like Islamic State and al-Qaeda in the past. Hours after his account disappeared, videos of Louis Farrakhan were still visible on Instagram among the 17,000 posts with the hashtag #louisfarrakhan, including a video where he defends his descriptions of Jews. “If it is truth, then it is not anti-Semitic,” he says in the clip. Facebook announced the ban before removing the affected accounts, giving the account owners time to redirect their thousands of followers to other channels before the accounts disappeared, as captured in screen shots by BuzzFeed journalist Ryan Mac. Alex Jones, who has promoted conspiracy theories about the Sandy Hook school shooting and hosted Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes on his show, quickly opened a new account and live-streamed himself talking about the ban, CNBC reported. Infowars, the website run by Jones, posted a response saying that the ban “... amounts to editorial control over user content - and a donation in kind to the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate.”
HAPHAZARD ENFORCEMENT
Social media companies have an uneasy history with voices on the far right, struggling for years to decide how to handle extremist content even as its purveyors used the services to amass followers and catapult themselves into the mainstream. The result has often been haphazard enforcement of policies: Facebook removed pages associated with Jones and his Infowars website starting last year, but left up his personal profile, for example. Apple Inc, Google parent Alphabet Inc and Twitter also banned Infowars last year. The companies have faced backlash over their suspensions of accounts from conservatives, who accuse them of censorship and bias. Civil rights groups say social media giants have failed to confront extremism. Facebook says it enforces its rules without prejudice. It tightened those policies further last month with a decision to ban praise, support and representation of white nationalism and white separatism. “We’ve always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology. The process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and it is what led us to our decision to remove these accounts today,” the company said in a statement. Liberal media watchdog group Media Matters for America praised the move, saying it inspired “some optimism that [Facebook] might be capable of taking responsibility for the ways its platforms have empowered extremists.”



Facebook shuts dozens of Myanmar social media accounts over 'inauthentic behavior'
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-face ... SKCN1VC0H0
Category: Politics
Published: August 22, 2019

Description: YANGON (Reuters) - Facebook Inc said on Thursday it had shut 216 social media pages, groups and accounts in Myanmar, some tied to the army, to stymie efforts to “manipulate or corrupt public debate”.

supporters-of-rohingya.jpg

The company closed 89 Facebook accounts, 107 pages, 15 groups and five Instagram accounts, some of which had hundreds of thousands of followers, it said in a blogpost. The social media giant has previously removed hundreds of accounts, including that of Myanmar’s army chief, after criticism it had failed to act on hate speech amid violence against Rohingya Muslims in the country. The people behind the latest deleted Myanmar accounts repurposed legitimate news and entertainment content and posted about national and local topics, including crime, ethnic relations, celebrities, and the military, it said.

no-rohingya.jpg

“Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our investigation found that some of this activity was linked to individuals associated with the Myanmar military.” In 2017, the military led a crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine State in response to attacks by Rohingya insurgents, pushing more than 730,000 Rohingya to neighboring Bangladesh, according to U.N. agencies.
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Facebook bans extremist leaders including Louis Farrakhan, Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos for being ‘dangerous’

Postby smix » Fri May 03, 2019 12:03 am

Facebook bans extremist leaders including Louis Farrakhan, Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos for being ‘dangerous’
The Washington Post

URL: https://www.washingtonpost.com/technolo ... dangerous/
Category: Politics
Published: May 2, 2019

Description: The bans are a sign that the social network is more aggressively enforcing its hate speech policies under pressure from civil rights groups.

free-everything.jpg

Facebook said on Thursday it has permanently banned several far-right and anti-Semitic figures and organizations, including Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, Infowars host Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos and Laura Loomer, for being “dangerous,” a sign that the social network is more aggressively enforcing its hate-speech policies at a moment when bigoted violence is on the rise around the world. Facebook said it was going to remove the accounts, fan pages, and groups affiliated with these individuals on both Facebook and its sister site, Instagram, after it reevaluated the content that they had posted previously, or had examined their activities outside of Facebook, the company said. The removal also pertains to at least one of the organizations run by these people, Jones’ Infowars. “We’ve always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology. The process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and it is what led us to our decision to remove these accounts today,” Facebook said in a statement. The social network--which for years has resisted taking a more aggressive stance on extremism --is under massive pressure globally to curtail the ways in which its platform is used by hateful groups and individuals, most recently after massacres in Sri Lanka and New Zealand where the perpetrators used social media to spread their hateful messages. “The timing is never an accident,” said Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters, a liberal organization that has long advocated for more enforcement against white supremacy and is one of the groups Facebook briefed on the decision. “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.” Alex Jones, speaking by phone from Austin, Texas, called Facebook’s action “authoritarian” and said he learned about it by seeing a headline on the Drudge Report. Facebook provided no direct notice, he said, and provided no evidence to him that he was “dangerous,” as the company has alleged. “It’s a bizarre political stunt, and they’re trying to hide their censorship of conservatives by mixing in Louis Farrakhan,” Jones said, referencing Farrakhan’s long associations with the far-left. He added, “I’m not really worried about me. I’m worried about how authoritarian this is… I guess free speech in America is dangerous. It’s comical.” Yiannopoulos, in a text exchange with The Washington Post, said that efforts to squelch voices seen as extreme can lead to a broader crackdown on free expression. “Read Orwell,” Yiannopoulos texted, invoking George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984. “You’re next." Facebook is also banning Paul Nehlen, who described himself as a “pro-White Christian Candidate” when he ran for Congress and was also kicked off the website Breitbart News site last year for ties to neo-Nazis and racist comments about Meghan Markle, and Paul Joseph Watson, a far-right YouTube personality and an editor of Infowars, according to the Infowars site. Facebook has previously imposed temporary bans on extremist figures including Jones and Yiannopoulos, another right-wing social media star. Twitter acted more quickly in permanently suspending Jones, Loomer and Nehlen. YouTube also has a ban of Jones and his Infowars channels in effect. YouTube and Twitter did not respond to requests for comment. Facebook and its counterparts have until recently largely resisted permanent bans, holding that objectionable speech is permissible, so long as it doesn’t bleed into hate. Facebook has also been wary of offending conservatives, who have become vocal about allegations that the company unfairly censors their speech. But Facebook has recently signaled that it is willing to take a stronger stance against white nationalism and white supremacy, in particular. In March, the company said it would begin banning posts, photos and other content that reference white nationalism and white separatism, revising its rules in response to criticism that a loophole had allowed racism to thrive on its platform. Previously the company had only banned the term white supremacy. Governments around the world are pushing Facebook to take town bigoted and other harmful content more quickly--or risk being banned themselves. Facebook and other social media companies were blocked in Sri Lanka in the wake of a massacre at a Catholic Church on Easter Sunday, a response to government concern that social media could spread misinformation and further violence. The government of New Zealand is also weighing stricter enforcement of social media as a response to a mass shooting at a mosque in Christchurch by a person who appeared to be influenced by white supremacist ideas and streamed the massacre live on Facebook. Meanwhile, Australia and the United Kingdom are considering steep penalties for social media companies that do not quickly remove and reduce the distribution of harmful material, including violent content that can spread bigoted messages. The company is also in the crosshairs of regulators over civil rights issues. Facebook has submitted to a civil rights audit over the last year and recently announced sweeping changes to its targeted advertising system after being sued by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which argued that its software enabled discrimination. The other people who were banned did not respond to requests for comment. Facebook said it began to reexamine the extremist figures last year, and some of the activities and posts the company said it had reevaluated took place within the past one or two years. Facebook said it took the individuals’ actions outside Facebook into account when making the decision to ban them. Jones, for example, recently hosted Gavin McInnes, the leader of the Proud Boys whom Facebook designated as a hate figure in December. Yiannopoulos publicly praised McInnes this year, and Loomer appeared with him at a rally. In other cases, the company reexamined long-held stances by some of the individuals. Farrakhan, Facebook said, referred to Jews as termites earlier this year, and called the religion “dirty” and its followers “liars, cheaters, and thieves.” He has long held anti-Semitic views and has referred to Jews by negative terms for years, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the AntiDefamation League, said Farrakhan has been a leading voice in spreading anti-Semitic ideas for more than 30 years and also has railed against white people and members of the LGBTQ community. “It’s all pretty despicable,” Greenblatt said. “His profile, his serial, congenital anti-Semitism, really puts him at the top of the ranks in terms of spreading these types of ideas.” Of Facebook’s action, he called for greater transparency from Facebook. “It’s an important step, yes, but the proof is in the pudding.” The bans were welcomed by civil rights activists, who have long argued that these individuals espouse violent and hateful views and that Silicon Valley companies should not allow their platforms to become a vehicle for spreading them. Madihha Ahussain, special counsel for anti-Muslim bigotry with the advocacy group Muslim Advocates, said that individuals like Loomer, Jones and Yiannopoulos have used social media platforms to broadcast dangerous hate speech and conspiracies targeting Muslims, Jews and others. “We applaud Facebook for taking this positive step toward removing hate actors from the company’s platforms,” she said. “As we saw in Christchurch, New Zealand — where a white nationalist was able to live-stream the slaughter of 50 people at two mosques — online platforms like Facebook have been used to target communities and spread hate.”
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Facebook Bans Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, Other Far-Right Figures

Postby smix » Fri May 03, 2019 3:39 am

Facebook Bans Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, Other Far-Right Figures
Bloomberg News

URL: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... ht-figures
Category: Politics
Published: May 2, 2019

Description: Facebook Inc. 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 is also 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 of these individuals and accounts that represent them are also 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 is often 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 have repeatedly violated its policies around hate speech and promoting violence. Jones, who peddles conspiracy theories through his media site InfoWars and has frequently said that the Sandy Hook school shooting was staged, was temporarily suspended from Facebook last year. His official fan page was also previously banned, but Jones was allowed to operate a personal account. Now that has been prohibited on Facebook’s sites as well. Facebook is also banning all fan pages dedicated to InfoWars stories and videos. The company had previously banned the official InfoWars Page in August, and banned 22 more InfoWars-related Pages where Jones was an administrator earlier this year. Now the company will remove all fan pages that promote InfoWars, even if they have no formal connection to the site or its employees. The Menlo Park, California-based company didn’t give details on what led to the bans this week, though a spokesperson said that Jones, Yiannopoulos and Loomer have all 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, like Google’s YouTube video site. In Jones’s case, he hosted McInnes on his show late last year and promoted him on Instagram earlier this year. A Facebook spokesperson says Yiannopoulos and Loomer have also publicly promoted McInnes. The company didn’t specify other posts or actions taken by any of the individuals blocked on Thursday. Watson, a British radio host and YouTube personality, tweeted Thursday afternoon that U.S. President Donald Trump should take action against Facebook. "Hopefully, other prominent conservatives will speak out about me being banned, knowing that they are next if we don’t pressure the Trump administration to take action," he posted to his 950,000 Twitter followers. Watson also has 1.6 million subscribers on YouTube. Yiannopoulos, the former editor of Brietbart News, and Loomer, a far-right activist who is also known for spreading conspiracy theories, have both previously been banned from Twitter Inc.’s social-media service. Twitter permanently blocked InfoWars and Jones in September for violating its harassment policies. When Facebook bans an individual or organization, it typically also removes posts from other users who praise or support them. In this case, a Facebook spokesperson said that people will be able to post about or praise these banned users, though they won’t be allowed to share any of their views or opinions that Facebook considers hate speech or calls for violence.



Banned from Facebook? A Polish Court May Help
Bloomberg News

URL: https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/artic ... t-may-help
Category: Politics
Published: May 9, 2019

Description: A Polish group is suing Facebook for “private censorship” in a potentially landmark case.
Facebook is often criticized for not doing enough to police its platform for hate speech. But the opposite has also been a problem: Mark Zuckerberg’s company uses rather vague “community standards” as the basis for decision to remove users and posts. It doesn’t feel compelled to explain exactly how it applies them, either. Now, a Polish court may decide it should. When Facebook banned Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, Louis Farrakhan, Laura Loomer and others last week, all it said was that “the process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and it is what led us to our decision.” The prominent right-wingers with huge audiences on the Facebook-owned platforms didn’t, in other words, get much in the way of explanation. Those banned from Facebook and Instagram last week might take a look at Poland, where a local non-governmental organization is suing Facebook for removing its page. The Polish nonprofit, called the Civil Society Drug Policy Initiative and known by the Polish abbreviation SIN for short, filed suit against Facebook’s European arm in the Warsaw District Court this week. At least in Europe, the case may help set up more transparent procedures for banning content and its creators from social networks. The group specializes in “harm reduction,” an approach to fixing drug-related social problems in part by removing the stigma from drug use and respecting users’ rights. It may be controversially soft on drug users, but the approach has been backed by the United Nations and influential private donors and is by no means illegal. SIN says Facebook shut down its page last year without explaining what rules it had broken; the organization used the social network’s appeal procedure but the ban was upheld, again without a clear explanation – just like in the case of U.S. right-wingers who were kicked off. SIN activists suspect Facebook's human moderators, or perhaps an algorithm, erroneously decided that the page, with 16,000 subscribers, encouraged drug use. The group is represented pro bono by a prominent Warsaw law firm and aided by another NGO, Panoptykon, which describes itself as a civil society watchdog over all kinds of regulators. SIN mostly wants the page reinstated because it says it was important as a hotline for drug users the organization is trying to help as well as an information channel. Panoptykon’s goals are broader: It’s trying to set a precedent and have the practice it describes as “private censorship” explicitly regulated. Poland is a country with a right-wing, nationalist government, and the ruling Law and Justice Party has long grumbled about U.S.-based social networks’ banning practices. Like those in the U.S. who were banned, its members see a liberal bias in the platforms’ policies. In 2017, the country's Digital Affairs Ministry drafted a bill that would make the social networks liable for “over-removal” of content, but the bill never made it to parliament, derailed by a ministry reorganization. Panoptykon’s approach, however, is distinct from the right-wing criticism: It’s trying to stress the nonpartisan nature of the “private censorship” issue by backing the drug policy nonprofit’s case. Panoptykon lawyer Dorota Glowacka argues that though social media companies are, in principle, free to kick people and organizations off their networks on the basis of their terms of service, Facebook, because of its global dominance and huge number of users, doesn’t enjoy full discretion in this area. It should, Glowacka says, “observe human rights standards” – and its freedom to withhold access to its private forum should be limited because users have so few viable alternatives. This line of attack skirts an issue long debated by Facebook and its critics -- whether the company is a tech platform for users’ free expression or a publisher with its own editorial policy. Publicly, Facebook says it’s a tech platform, which is supposed to absolve it of responsibility for what appears on it (and explain why it doesn’t pay for content). But in a U.S. court case last year, its lawyers argued that it was a publisher and its decisions on what not to publish should be protected for that reason. I’d be in favor of treating Facebook and its peers as publishers, holding them liable for content and getting them to pay news organizations for providing core material for debate on their platforms. But Panoptykon’s approach – effectively treating the massive social networks as public utilities – also has its advantages: If upheld by the courts, first in Poland and then on the European Union level, it would force the platforms to leave all lawful speech alone and stop taking down posts, profiles and pages simply because it feels like it, because a government objects to the content or because an interest group has put pressure on them with a flagging campaign. SIN and Panoptykon want the platforms to issue reasoned statements explaining why they removed a certain post or account and who was responsible for the decision – a human or an algorithm. Platforms should only remove posts for violating specific rules, not entire accounts. And users, according to Panoptykon, should have recourse to courts when they want to appeal the networks’ decisions. These demands are largely in line with the so-called Santa Clara Principles, developed by a team of ethics and tech experts and backed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Trying, perhaps somewhat belatedly, to regulate the major tech platforms is turning into a national sport in many countries, especially European ones. So many conflicting demands are being made on them that it’s easy to see why they resist the efforts with all the legal firepower they’ve got. It’s difficult to comply with demands that they, on the one hand, curb hate speech, political manipulation and the propaganda of violence – and, on the other hand, that they act as a free speech utility for which a takedown or a ban is a rare measure of last resort. But in a sense, it’s good to have the regulatory competition and all the different court cases in which the platforms are attacked from every possible angle. Out of this chaos of adversity, clear definitions for the platforms’ functions, power, rights and obligations should emerge. The Polish case is one to watch for those who believe the recent bans of right-wingers were unfair. It’s an issue that should, ideally, be settled by the courts in the U.S., too.
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Instagram and Facebook Ban Far-Right Extremists

Postby smix » Sat May 04, 2019 6:44 am

Instagram and Facebook Ban Far-Right Extremists
The Atlantic

URL: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/ ... ts/588607/
Category: Politics
Published: May 2, 2019

Description: Alex Jones, Infowars, Milo Yiannopoulos, Paul Joseph Watson, Laura Loomer, Paul Nehlen, and Louis Farrakhan have all been removed from the platforms.
In an effort to contain misinformation and extremism that have spread across the platforms, Instagram and its parent company, Facebook, have banned Alex Jones, Infowars, Milo Yiannopoulos, Paul Joseph Watson, Laura Loomer, and Paul Nehlen under their policies against dangerous individuals and organizations. They also banned the Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who has repeatedly made anti-Semitic statements. Infowars is subject to the strictest ban. Facebook and Instagram will remove any content containing Infowars videos, radio segments, or articles (unless the post is explicitly condemning the content), and Facebook will also remove any groups set up to share Infowars content and events promoting any of the banned extremist figures, according to a company spokesperson. (Twitter, YouTube, and Apple have also banned Jones and Infowars.) Jones, Yiannopoulos, Watson, Loomer, Nehlen, and Farrakhan are all personally banned, as are any accounts set up in their likeness. But users may still praise those figures on Instagram and share content related to them that doesn’t violate other Instagram and Facebook terms of service. “We’ve always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology. The process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and it is what led us to our decision to remove these accounts today,” a Facebook spokesperson said via email. While Facebook had previously taken partial action against Jones, he and other extremists found a welcome home on Instagram, where they garnered hundreds of thousands of followers, making the platform fertile ground for conspiracy theories, misinformation, and extremist thought. As I reported in March, right-wing meme pages such as @the_typical_liberal and @unclesamsmisguidedchildren share Infowars content via IGTV, Instagram’s long-form-video hub. @the_typical_liberal has posted several videos and images claiming proof that the Christchurch, New Zealand, shooting was a “false flag.” Other Instagram accounts suggested by the platform falsely claim that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is secretly connected to the Clintons, who feed baby blood to George Soros, and that a new bill would “engrave Planned Parenthood’s abortion number” onto the back of all student-ID cards for girls over the age of 12. The company has also failed to crack down on anti-vaccine content, despite repeated promises to limit its reach. In March, I found that a quarter of the top posts with the #vaccines hashtag contained anti-vaccine messaging. And more than two months later, a Business Insider investigation found that anti-vaccination hashtags and memes were still thriving on the platform. Josh Russell, a misinformation and extremism expert, posted a Twitter thread on Wednesday outlining all the ways Instagram has failed to contain Russian misinformation campaigns. Instagram has become the Internet Research Agency’s “go-to” social network, according to Wired, and in the lead-up to the 2018 midterms, thousands of Americans were following Russian-backed accounts intent on sowing division. “A lot of current right wing instagram accounts listed russian instagram accounts as partners in their posts and you can use that to run across tons of stuff made by the russians still on IG right now,” Russell tweeted. Simply by following Instagram’s suggestions, Russell was recommended 240 Instagram pages posting misinformation. Looking at one QAnon page resulted in suggestions for 12 more. Liking and engaging with even borderline-extremist content on the platform results in recommendations for more extreme content. Just last week, Instagram recommended that I follow Yiannopoulos and Jones after I liked and followed many right-wing meme pages. Russell also noted that more than 30 white-nationalist pages flagged to Facebook and Instagram last month are still up. “One would think that Instagram would bother to halfway try to clean this stuff up,” he tweeted, “but it’s all still there.” Banning these extremist figures is a step toward stricter moderation of extremist views, but time and again, we’ve seen that the internet’s worst actors always find new ways to exploit platforms. For instance, after Instagram promised to ban anti-vaccine hashtags such as #vaccinescauseautism, anti-vaxxers simply developed new hashtags by changing a letter or adding a word. This week, Facebook announced an entire redesign of the platform focusing on Groups, in an effort to give users more private spaces. Facebook is “using people’s understandable anger over the company playing fast and loose with their personal data to push a ‘privacy’ focus which is just a fancy way to hide the other big problem on the platform and evade journalists and watchdogs,” the NBC journalist Brandy Zadrozny tweeted upon Facebook’s Groups announcement. “There are very nice groups … but some are also very very dangerous and make the world worse.” One recent investigation found dozens of Facebook groups dedicated to the Pizzagate conspiracy theory. Joining just one of those groups resulted in recommendations for more conspiracy-theory groups.
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Facebook bans Alex Jones and Laura Loomer for violating its policies against dangerous individuals

Postby smix » Sat May 04, 2019 6:08 pm

Facebook bans Alex Jones and Laura Loomer for violating its policies against dangerous individuals
The Verge

URL: https://www.theverge.com/2019/5/2/18526 ... -farrakhan
Category: Politics
Published: May 2, 2019

Description: Milo Yiannopoulos and Louis Farrakhan have been banned as well
Facebook today removed Louis Farrakhan, Alex Jones, Paul Nehlen, Milo Yiannopoulos, Paul Joseph Watson, Laura Loomer, and Infowars from Facebook and Instagram, saying their accounts violated its policies against dangerous individuals and organizations. They will be prohibited from creating new accounts, although Facebook and Instagram users will continue to be able to create posts praising them and their viewpoints, the company said. “We’ve always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology,” the company said 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.” Infowars founder Jones was suspended from Facebook last year under rules against bullying and hate speech. In February, the company removed another 22 pages associated with him and his businesses. Jones has continuously promoted fringe conspiracy theories, including baseless arguments that the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre never happened. His followers have stalked and harassed families of the victims, requiring them to move frequently and live in hiding. Watson is an editor at Infowars and associate of Jones. Farrakhan is the leader of the Nation of Islam and is known for making inflammatory anti-Semitic and homophobic remarks. Nehlen is a white supremacist politician who had previously been banned from Twitter. Yiannopoulos is a far-right provocateur who was banned from Twitter after inspiring a wave of racist abuse. Loomer is a far-right activist who recently called Islam “a cancer on humanity” on her Instagram story. (Instagram removed the post.) Facebook did not disclose all of the incidents that led to the accounts’ removal, saying that it had made the decisions following a period of review. The decision took into account the group’s behavior both on and offline, the company said. Factors for the removal included engaging in acts of hate or violence; calling for or carrying out acts of violence rooted in racial or ethnic prejudice; describing themselves as the follower of a hateful ideology; or using hate speech or slurs in their profiles. Having pages or groups removed previously can also lead to account removal, Facebook said. But the company did point to some of the actions leading up to the accounts’ removal:
* First in December and again in February, Jones appeared in videos with Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes. Facebook has designated McInnes as a hate figure.
* Yiannopoulos publicly praised McInnes and British far-right activist Tommy Robinson, who Facebook has designated as a hate figure.
* Loomer appeared with McInnes in December, and more recently declared her support for far-right activist Faith Goldy, who was banned after posting racist videos to her account.
Facebook’s move comes amid a wave of far-right violence over the past year that has included shootings in Pittsburgh; Christchurch, New Zealand; and Poway, CA. In the latter two cases, the alleged shooters announced their attentions on the hate forum 8chan and then used Facebook Live to broadcast their attacks. (The Poway shooter accidentally set his stream to private.) Facebook has come under increasing pressure to address the spread of hate speech on its platform, and to remove violent terrorist content created by murderers and their sympathizers. Facebook began removing the accounts at 1:30P ET on Thursday, and some of them were still up at press time.
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Facebook bans Louis Farrakhan, Milo Yiannopoulos, InfoWars and others from its platforms as 'dangerous'

Postby smix » Sat May 04, 2019 6:13 pm

Facebook bans Louis Farrakhan, Milo Yiannopoulos, InfoWars and others from its platforms as 'dangerous'
CNN

URL: https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/02/tech/fac ... index.html
Category: Politics
Published: May 2, 2019

Description: New York (CNN Business) - Facebook announced Thursday that it had designated some high-profile people, including Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who's notorious for using anti-Semitic language, and right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, as "dangerous" and said it will be purging them from its platforms. Jones and his media outlet InfoWars had previously been banned from Facebook (FB) in August 2018, but had maintained a presence on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook. On Thursday, Jones and InfoWars will be barred from Instagram as well. Other people banned on Thursday included Paul Nehlen, an anti-Semite who unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2016 and 2018, and fringe right-wing media personalities Laura Loomer, Milo Yiannopoulos and Paul Joseph Watson. "We've always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement provided to CNN Business. "The process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and it is what led us to our decision to remove these accounts today." A Facebook spokesperson told CNN Business the company goes through a lengthy process and takes into consideration a number of factors before determining an individual to be "dangerous." The Facebook spokesperson said such factors include whether the person or organization has ever called for violence against individuals based on race, ethnicity, or national origin; whether the person has been identified with a hateful ideology; whether they use hate speech or slurs in their about section on their social media profiles; and whether they have had pages or groups removed from Facebook for violating hate speech rules. In some instances, when Facebook bans an individual or organization, it also restricts others from expressing praise or support for them on its platforms, the spokesperson said, adding that the company continues to view such action as the correct approach. That policy may not apply to any or all of the people banned Thursday, however. The spokesperson added that Facebook will remove groups, pages and accounts created to represent the banned individuals when it knows the individual is participating in the effort. Some of the individuals who were designated as "dangerous" responded to the ban on their accounts in the brief period between when Facebook announced the ban and when Facebook scrubbed the accounts. Loomer, for instance, denied in an Instagram post that she ever violated the company's terms of service. Loomer asked people to follow her on an different platform, adding, "Looks like you guys will probably never hear from me again." Yiannopoulos also published a final post on Instagram. Watson used Twitter, from which he has not been banned, to write, "In an authoritarian society controlled by a handful of Silicon Valley giants, all dissent must be purged." Farrakhan, Jones and Nehlen did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Some critics questioned why Facebook banned the accounts in one fell swoop on Thursday, instead of taking action against the accounts at the time they were determined to have been in violation of the company's rules. These critics suggested the announcement was designed to generate positive publicity for the company, which has a history of being slow to act on such matters and of only taking action after facing pressure from the public. It is possible it simply took Facebook a significant amount of time to reach a decision on whether to label the individuals as "dangerous." In late March, Business Insider obtained emails showing Facebook executives in an intense debate over whether or not to take action like this against Jones. At the time, a Facebook spokesperson told CNN Business, "As this email correspondence shows, we continually monitor and review whether people are involved in organized hate on our platform. We've already taken down InfoWars' Facebook Page, but Alex Jones has a network of presences online and we are evaluating how to appropriately enforce our policies against him as an individual. We're committed to being diligent and will share an update when that process has run its course."



Trump tweets support for far-right figures banned by Facebook
CNN

URL: https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/04/tech/tru ... index.html
Category: Politics
Published: May 4, 2019

Description: New York (CNN) - Facebook barred seven users from its services earlier this week, citing its policies against "dangerous individuals and organizations." Now President Donald Trump is siding with the people who were banned and railing against social media "censorship" -- all while using one of his favorite social sites. The president shared more than a dozen tweets about the subject on Friday night and Saturday morning. And he conveniently avoided the fact that some of the banned users are extremists who make a living by deceiving their fans. His posts were a rallying cry, full of resentment toward Big Tech. He said "It's getting worse and worse for Conservatives on social media!" But Facebook (FB)executives say this has nothing to do with ideology or political party -- it's about safety. "We've always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology," a Facebook spokesperson told CNN Business when the bans were put into effect on Thursday. The action affected Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who's notorious for using anti-Semitic language; Paul Nehlen, an anti-Semite who unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2016 and 2018; and far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. Jones and his media outlet InfoWars had previously been banned from Facebook, but had maintained a presence on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook. Jones and InfoWars have now been evicted from Instagram as well, although there are questions about how thoroughly the ban is being applied. The other banned individuals are the fringe right-wing media personalities Paul Joseph Watson, Milo Yiannopoulos and Laura Loomer. The president is showing particular support for Watson, an InfoWars personality notorious for spreading misinformation. (In the past, Watson has peddled conspiracy theories about the unsolved murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich, the September 11 terrorist attacks, and so-called "chemtrails.") On Friday night Trump tweeted about Watson's ban, and on Saturday morning he retweeted a video Watson made criticizing Facebook about it. He also retweeted a bizarre video about Islam from a user named "Deep State Exposed." And he called out Twitter, on Twitter, for blocking actor and right-wing personality James Woods' account. A Twitter (TWTR) spokesman confirmed that Woods' account will be restored if he deletes a flagged tweet that violated the site's rules. For the president and his allies, all of this contributes to a familiar storyline. Republican leaders and right-wing media outlets have been loudly accusing social media giants of bias and censorship at the same time that the companies have been taking steps to reduce toxic content on their sites. The president has repeatedly cherry-picked examples to make his case against the sites. On Friday night he claimed that "Diamond and Silk," a pro-Trump duo, have been "treated so horribly by Facebook" and "we're looking into" it. "I am continuing to monitor the censorship of AMERICAN CITIZENS on social media platforms," Trump said in a separate tweet. "This is the United States of America — and we have what's known as FREEDOM OF SPEECH! We are monitoring and watching, closely!!" Users do not have government-protected freedom of speech on privately-owned platforms like Facebook. The president recently invited Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to the White House for a meeting that touched on Twitter's rules and other topics. Hours before the April 23 sit-down, Trump complained (on Twitter) that the site is "very discriminatory" and does not "treat me well as a Republican." He accused the company of "constantly taking people off list" -- an apparent reference to Twitter's efforts to weed out bots and other fake followers platform-wide that artificially inflate follower counts of users, including the president's. Claims of Big Tech censorship have also made their way to Congress. Lawmakers have held various hearings this year on the so-called practice of "social media filtering." At the hearings, Republicans like Steve King of Iowa have cited articles from far-right media outlets like the Gateway Pundit to accuse social media companies of bias against conservatives. At one hearing last year, the "Diamond & Silk" duo was even invited to testify. The politicians that advance these complaints understand that the narrative resonates with -- and whips up -- the conservative base. That's what the president's Twitter feed looked like on Friday night and Saturday morning. After retweeting lots of critics of Big Tech, he asked when media outlets will "apologize to me for knowingly getting the Russia Collusion Delusion story so wrong?" Then he suggested he likes the idea of some social media bans -- if they affected the sources he can't stand. He asked: "Why is @nytimes, @washingtonpost, @CNN, @MSNBC allowed to be on Twitter & Facebook. Much of what they do is FAKE NEWS!" Twitter and Facebook spokespeople did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Earlier this year, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, who has been under scrutiny for the social media company's role in spreading misinformation and inadequately policing content, called for regulators to play a "more active role" in establishing rules for the internet.
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Facebook Bans Alex Jones, Other Extremists—but Not as Planned

Postby smix » Sat May 04, 2019 7:22 pm

Facebook Bans Alex Jones, Other Extremists—but Not as Planned
Wired

URL: https://www.wired.com/story/facebook-ba ... xtremists/
Category: Politics
Published: May 2, 2019

Description: On Thursday at around 2 pm ET, multiple news outlets simultaneously “broke” a story that six particularly toxic extremists and one conspiracy theorist organization had been banned from Facebook and Instagram. Only, they hadn’t. Stories by CNN, the Verge, The Atlantic, and The Washington Post lauded Facebook for scrubbing the accounts of inflammatory far-right online figureheads like Laura Loomer, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Infowars’ Alex Jones and Paul Joseph Watson from both platforms. Yet those four still had control of their Instagram accounts for nearly an hour after the bans were announced. And Jones’ Facebook page, “Infowars Is Back,” was still online and live-streaming for nearly two hours after the ban was disclosed. Loomer and Yiannopolous took advantage of the advance notice, posting photos to Instagram about being banned from the platform that included captions directing their fans to follow them elsewhere. The pages were eventually removed, but the time lag and strange media rollout turned what should have been Facebook’s most comprehensive crackdown on high-profile extremists into another example of the company’s struggles with content moderation. None of the extremists banned Thursday are new to Facebook or Instagram. Each has used the platforms extensively to spread misinformation and inflame tensions. Jones and his allies were able to evade an earlier ban through a network of ostensibly unofficial pages sharing Infowars content. Facebook said on Thursday it would close that loophole, but that will require much greater effort by the company and may prove no more successful. In addition to Jones, Yiannopoulos, Loomer, Joseph Watson, and Infowars, Facebook said it also banned white supremacist Paul Nehlen and radical Muslim preacher Louis Farrakhan from both Facebook and Instagram under its policies prohibiting dangerous individuals and organizations. The company says that all of their personal and professional accounts—or any accounts that appear to represent them or their organization—are no longer permitted on either platform. In a statement to WIRED, a Facebook spokesperson said that the company has “always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology.” But the people and organization banned Thursday were just as extreme and peddled just as much misinformation a year ago. So why now? Facebook says “the process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and it is what led us to our decision to remove these accounts today.” In August 2018, YouTube and Apple banned Infowars. Facebook followed suit shortly after, removing Jones and his organization’s accounts, amid mounting pressure from critics to deplatform the conspiracy theorist. The company said its ban was unrelated to the actions of the other tech companies. And Jones and Infowars were effectively able to evade the ban thanks to a network of ostensibly unofficial pages and profiles dedicated to resharing Infowars content which popped up within days of the official accounts’ removal. Facebook’s Thursday ban closes that loophole, by deploying a tool against Infowars usually reserved for terrorist organizations and self-proclaimed hate groups. The company says that users will be prohibited from sharing Infowars videos, radio clips, articles, and other content from the site unless they are explicitly condemning the material. Fan pages or groups that reshare Infowars content in a sincere or appreciative manner won’t be permitted. By allowing users to share Infowars content for the purpose of criticizing it, Facebook has effectively restricted itself from using automated tools to enforce the ban—because those tools often cannot accurately determine context and tone. Instead, Facebook will have to rely on human content moderators to determine whether a post is sufficiently critical. Asked about the “banned” accounts remaining active for an hour or more after the ban was disclosed, the Facebook spokesperson said it was the result of a plan gone awry. Facebook had originally intended for the six users and Infowars to be banned from the platform and told of the ban before they read about it in the press. However, actually scrubbing all of the accounts from the platforms took much longer than Facebook had anticipated, the spokesperson said, leading to more than an hour of lag time in some cases.
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Media outlets label Louis Farrakhan a 'far-right leader'

Postby smix » Sat May 04, 2019 11:54 pm

Media outlets label Louis Farrakhan a 'far-right leader'
Washington Examiner

URL: https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news ... ght-leader
Category: Politics
Published: May 2, 2019

Description: Multiple media outlets labeled Louis Farrakhan a “far-right leader" when reporting that Facebook and Instagram had banned him and a number of other controversial figures from their platforms. The New York Times, the Washington Post, Politico, and the Atlantic were among news organizations that used this description of Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam and a virulent anti-Semite who has long been associated with left-wing politics. After receiving almost immediate criticism for the "right-wing" characterization on social media, outlets scrambled their articles. An article for The Atlantic was originally titled “Instagram and Facebook Ban Far-Right Extremists." Captured by the Wayback Machine, it stated that "In an effort to contain misinformation and extremism that has increasingly spread across the platform, Instagram has banned several prominent right-wing extremists. Specifically, Instagram and its parent company, Facebook, have banned Alex Jones, Infowars, Milo Yiannopoulos, Paul Joseph Watson, Laura Loomer, Paul Nehlen, and Louis Farrakhan under their policies against dangerous individuals and organizations." The opening line was then changed to read: "In an effort to contain misinformation and extremism that have spread across the platform, Instagram and its parent company, Facebook, have banned several prominent right-wing extremists including Alex Jones, Infowars, Milo Yiannopoulos, Paul Joseph Watson, Laura Loomer, and Paul Nehlen under their policies against dangerous individuals and organizations. They also banned Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who has repeatedly made anti-semitic statements." An article in the Washington Post was originally titled “Facebook bans far-right leaders including Louis Farrakhan, Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos for being dangerous.” Also captured in a web archive, the piece originally stated that “Facebook said on Thursday it has permanently banned several far-right figures and organizations including Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, Infowars host Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Laura Loomer, for being ‘dangerous’.” The title was then switched out the words "far-right" with "extremist", and now reads: "Facebook bans extremist leaders including Louis Farrakhan, Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos for being ‘dangerous.'" The Washington Post also sent out a push-alert, beginning with the word "CORRECTION."

correction-far-right.png

Critics had been quick to respond.
The gaslighting coming from Democrats and their friends in the media trying to convince us that the Obama Administration didn't spy on the Trump campaign is almost as bad as the @washingtonpost attempting to gaslight us into believing that Louis Farrakhan is somehow "right wing."
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) May 2, 2019

“Far-right extremist Louis Farrakhan” is a bold way to describe a liberal anti-Semite. Is bold the right word?
— Jake Wilkins (@JakeWilkns) May 2, 2019

Farrakhan has a long-time association with the Left and the Democratic Party. At least two prominent leaders of the Women’s March, Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour, have praised Farrakhan. Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., had shared a stage with Farrakhan in 2011. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., and Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., attended Farrakhan’s meetings. Now-Attorney General of Minnesota, Keith Ellison, was a former member of the Nation of Islam who attended Farrakhan meetings while in Congress. The Congressional Black Caucus has met with Farrakhan. Then-Sen. Barack Obama had a picture taken with Farrakhan in 2005. And Farrakhan shared a stage with former President Bill Clinton during Aretha Franklin’s funeral last year. Farrakhan also has a lengthy history of anti-Semitism. He compared Jewish people to termites in a 2018 tweet, saying, "I'm not an anti-Semite. I'm anti-Termite.”
I'm not an anti-Semite. I’m anti-Termite.

farrakhan-million-man.jpg

— MINISTER FARRAKHAN (@LouisFarrakhan) October 16, 2018

Twitter has not banned Farrakhan from its platform, but it did previously remove his blue check mark.
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Facebook wades deeper into censorship debate as it bans 'dangerous' accounts

Postby smix » Sun May 05, 2019 4:51 am

Facebook wades deeper into censorship debate as it bans 'dangerous' accounts
Politico

URL: https://www.politico.com/story/2019/05/ ... es-1299247
Category: Politics
Published: May 2, 2019

Description: Facebook on Thursday banned from its flagship social network and its subsidiary Instagram a series of incendiary political figures, including Infowars Chief Alex Jones and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan — a move some critics scoffed at as belated but that free speech advocates warned could raise thorny content moderation issues. The social media giant has drawn broad criticism from across the political spectrum over its attempts to curb harmful content. Critics on the left have said Facebook and other tech platforms are failing to thwart the spread of hate speech; those on the right argue tech's approach to content-policing stifles free speech and disproportionately targets conservatives. Neither camp appeared quelled by Thursday's move, which the company said was to crack down on violations of its policies against "dangerous individuals" and organizations. "Facebook just announced they are finally banning Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos and other racist conspiracy theorists," tweeted Christopher Wylie, the whistleblower who triggered the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. "Let’s not forget that a mere 10 months ago, they were defending these same people’s right to publish their hateful disinformation and harass Sandy Hook families." On the other hand, Dan Gainor of the Media Research Center, a conservative tech and media watchdog, praised the removal of Farrakhan but bemoaned the company’s other actions. “It's unfortunate that online speech doesn't have enough room for controversial views,” he said in an email. Facebook, along with Twitter and Google's YouTube, has for some time been caught in the crossfire of those wildly diverging positions on how to appropriately operate a global platform. Past attempts to define clear standards have failed to settle the issue, as when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg notoriously said on a podcast last year that he'd allow posts denying the Holocaust as long as the people behind them sincerely believed what they were saying. The company framed Thursday's bans as its latest attempt to slice through a thicket of complex and politically charged issues with basic principles. “We've always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology," a Facebook spokesperson said 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.” In an escalation of its content enforcement actions, the company also booted a small group of fringe right-wing figures, including commentator and provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, Infowars contributor Paul Joseph Watson, activist Laura Loomer and Paul Nehlen, the self-described "pro-white" congressional candidate who challenged former House Speaker Paul Ryan for his seat in 2016. All four have been known to spread false information or to engage in racially charged political rhetoric. Facebook, the largest social network in the world, has long faced pressure to crack down on bad actors disseminating misinformation online. Last year, Jones and his site emerged as a flashpoint for those criticisms, prompting the company to take action. In August, the company cited violations of community standards in removing pages belonging to Jones and Infowars, notorious for peddling unfounded conspiracy theories about the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The move came amid a flurry of suspensions and content takedowns for Jones and Infowars, which also were booted from YouTube, Twitter and other platforms. But Facebook's suspension did not bar Jones and other Infowars organizers from having accounts on the platform, and both Jones and his site remained active on Facebook-owned Instagram — until Thursday. Advocacy groups, meanwhile, for years have called for Facebook and other social media to enforce their policies on hate speech against Farrakhan, who has a history of spreading anti-Semitic rhetoric online. That too ostensibly came to an end Thursday. Some frequent Facebook critics offered muted praise for the bans, heavily tempered with caution noting how much more they think must be done. "Platforms need to be much more vigilant about weeding out hate," tweeted Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). "This is a start." Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, whose organization has repeatedly repudiated Farrakhan’s online postings as hateful, called the latest enforcement actions “a long overdue step by Facebook but a move that we welcome.” “Still, it’s not enough for tech companies to make fighting hate part of their press strategy,” Greenblatt said in a statement. “When Facebook made a similar decision last year, extremists and their supporters were able to circumvent those measures. We will wait and see how Facebook responds to that challenge.” Facebook’s initial decision to boot the main accounts for Jones and Infowars last year drew a smattering of praise from lawmakers on Capitol Hill, many of whom expressed outrage over his baseless claim that the Sandy Hook shooting was a hoax. But the company faced fresh scrutiny after numerous reports detailed how Jones and other Infowars contributors appeared to circumvent the suspension by creating alternative accounts and private groups to disseminate their content. Jones' account on Facebook-owned Instagram, meanwhile, amassed over 300,000 followers. Even on Thursday, Facebook drew criticism for a confusing and staggered rollout of the bans, which saw some of the accounts targeted for deletion remain active for hours after the announcement, giving them ample time to tell followers where else to find them online. And free speech advocates have warned that the company’s content removals could backfire in unexpected ways. After Facebook announced earlier this year it was its ban on hate speech to include white nationalist and separatist content, the American Civil Liberties Union cautioned that those steps could also restrict those seeking to combat the spread of harmful content. "Every time Facebook makes the choice to remove content, a single company is exercising an unchecked power to silence individuals and remove them from what has become an indispensable platform for the speech of billions,” American Civil Liberties Union staff attorney Vera Eidelman told POLITICO in March. “When speech is censored by private parties based on the content of that speech, there's nothing stopping Facebook — or YouTube or Twitter — from using that same power to censor organizations fighting to protect abortion rights or individuals fighting against climate change tomorrow.”
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Bokhari: Link-banning Is Facebook’s Terrifying New Censorship Tool

Postby smix » Sun May 05, 2019 4:58 am

Bokhari: Link-banning Is Facebook’s Terrifying New Censorship Tool
Breitbart News

URL: https://www.breitbart.com/tech/2019/05/ ... ship-tool/
Category: Politics
Published: May 2, 2019

Description: The banning of multiple political commentators from Facebook and Instagram, including conservatives Paul Joseph Watson and Laura Loomer, is an outrage against the ideals of an open Internet on its own. But beyond the bans on individuals, Facebook has deployed an even more terrifying tool of censorship — link-banning. The mainstream media were, of course, tipped off about the bans in advance, and the Atlantic’s report contains the following eye-opening detail. Not only has Alex Jones’ personal account now been banned from Facebook, in addition to PrisonPlanet editor-in-chief and YouTube star Paul Joseph Watson, but all links to Infowars sites are now banned across the platform. Share Infowars too often, and you’ll be banned too. Via The Atlantic:
Infowars is subject to the strictest ban. Facebook and Instagram will remove any content containing Infowars videos, radio segments, or articles (unless the post is explicitly condemning the content), and Facebook will also remove any groups set up to share Infowars content and events promoting any of the banned extremist figures, according to a company spokesperson. (Twitter, YouTube, and Apple have also banned Jones and Infowars.)

This takes censorship on social media to altogether new levels. If you post Infowars content on Facebook or Facebook-owned Instagram, your post will be removed. If you post it repeatedly, you will be banned. Note the wording, too — you’ll be banned unless you’re condemning Infowars. Facebook is now brazenly using its power to reward certain political positions and punish others. This isn’t censorship of an individual or a group over a violation of terms of service. It’s the wholesale ban of an independent media site, which for all the criticism levied against it, has had a major impact on the politics of the United States. And Facebook has made no pretense, as it has in other cases where the pages of news sites have been banned, that the ban occurred because of alleged “inauthentic behavior,” by which it means the use of multiple pages or automated accounts to promote a site’s content. That Facebook is dispensing with its previous excuses shows that the social network has become emboldened to regulate the flow of news on its platform, knowing that no consequences are headed its way from Republicans on Capitol Hill or in the White House. Through algorithm changes and the prioritization of so-called “authoritative sources,” Facebook has spent the last two years positioning itself to control the news you see on your feed. Now it’s taken control of the news you share with your friends too. Post a link to a disapproved website? It’ll be deleted. Post it again? You’ll likely be banned. This is a formula not just for banning websites, commentators, and political figures, but for banning all their supporters as well. And because their bans nearly exclusively target the right, potentially thousands of Republicans and Trump supporters won’t be able to use Facebook to encourage their friends to vote on election day 2020 — a massive advantage for the Democrats on one of the internet’s most politically influential platforms. President Donald Trump may have cooled on sources like Infowars (unlike his campaign days, when he appeared on Alex Jones’ show). But this isn’t just an attack on particular individuals or sources. Whatever your criticisms of Infowars — and there are many — this is an attack on the independent media as a whole. It’s an unprecedented tilting of the scales in favor of Democrat-approved media, and it will have an enormous impact on the 2020 election. That’s the point of course. Since Trump won in 2016, Silicon Valley has been animated by a single mission — ensure it never happens again. Beyond the leaks showing that Facebook is deliberately deboosting conservative figures (when it isn’t outright banning them), that YouTube and Google are pushing conservative content out of their top search results, just look at the video-recorded weeping of Google executives on stage after Trump won. They hate him, they hate his supporters, and they will do everything they can to suppress them before election day. The only question is, what’s Trump going to do about it?



Mike Cernovich on Big Tech Censorship: They’re Taking Out the Influential People One-by-One
Breitbart News

URL: https://www.breitbart.com/radio/2019/05 ... ne-by-one/
Category: Politics
Published: May 10, 2019

Description: Mike Cernovich described the Silicon Valley Masters of the Universe expanding censorship of conservatives as a political measure to assist Democrats in 2020’s upcoming presidential elections and beyond, offering his remarks in a Friday interview on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Daily with host Alex Marlow. “They want to ban everyone before the primary season heats up,” said Cernovich. “They’re getting rid of all the people who are influential or perceived as influential, and they’re taking them out one-by-one. Facebook is now banning people for what they call ‘off-platform harassment,’ but yet Facebook paid users to harass other people.” According to Cernovich, Big Tech companies such as Facebook, and Twitter, and Google — including its subsidiary YouTube — deploy political censorship to combat what they label “hate speech.” Noteworthy figures recently banned from the various platforms include Alex Jones, Laura Loomer, Gavin McInnes, and Milo Yiannopoulos.



Silicon Valley companies deny that left-wing or partisan Democrat biases shape their conduct. Cernovich noted how Twitter’s enforcement of its stated user codes of conduct is colored by its left-wing and partisan politics, noting Pennsylvania State Rep. Brian Sims (D) remains on Twitter after soliciting assistance on Periscope — a video-streaming platform owned by Twitter and integrated into its platform — to dox pro-life teenagers and deriding a woman for being white. “Brian Sims is actually a great example [of Twitter’s political double-standard],” said Cernovich. “He literally harassed underage girls. … He’s not banned. He uses racially-charged language to talk about women. He essentially said old white women aren’t allowed to have political opinions, ‘Oh, look at this old white woman out here trying to have an opinion.’ Not banned. Everything’s cool.” Marlow noted Twitter’s and Facebook’s shared refusal to enforce their own stated standards in the case of Vic Berger, a left-wing personality who repeatedly harasses, smears, and engages in overtly threatening behavior against people he disagrees with politically. He noted how leftists regularly target the family members of their detractors. “Luckily, my family has avoided this, but I know it’s coming and I’m dreading it,” said Marlow. “I have to admit it. I really am a pretty brave person, but I’m dreading when I know my family gets wrapped up into it. One exception, BuzzFeed -— the creeps over there — did go over to my wife’s Facebook page and screencapped a few of her private [posts], which was, needless to say, her last day on Facebook.”



Facebook Shuts Down Pro-Populist Italian Pages Before EU Elections
Breitbart News

URL: https://www.breitbart.com/europe/2019/0 ... elections/
Category: Politics
Published: May 13, 2019

Description: Facebook has shut down 23 major populist Italian pages with 2.5 million followers just two weeks before the European elections. According to Italian media, the majority of the pages supported the populist parties La Lega (The League) and the 5-Star Movement (M5S) — who currently govern Italy in a temporary coalition. Facebook has justified its dramatic move by claiming that the sites shared fake news, so-called “hate speech”, and “divisive content” regarding immigrants, vaccines, and Jewish people. Facebook used information from a report produced by a left-progressive NGO called Avaaz, which deals with “human rights” and environmental campaigns. “We thank Avaaz for sharing its research so we could investigate,” said a Facebook spokesperson. “We are committed to protecting the integrity of the EU elections and around the world. We have removed a series of false and duplicate accounts that violated our policies on the subject of authenticity, as well as several pages for violation of the policy on changing the name.” “We have also taken action against some pages that have repeatedly spread misinformation. We will take further measures if we find other violations,” the spokesperson warned. In its report, which was presented to Facebook on May 3, Avaaz said it had identified 14 Italian networks on Facebook comprising 104 pages and six groups, with a total reach of 18.2 million followers. This week, Facebook took punitive action against 23 pages in these networks, with a total of 2.46 million followers and 2.44 million interactions over the last three months. Facebook has also reportedly “weakened” pages that spread content with allegedly false news, presumably making them less visible to Facebook users. The technical motivation for the closing of the pages is linked to name changes: it is claimed they initially suggested themes that did not seem to allude to political parties or movements, but later changed the theme. Among the closed pages are “We want the 5-star Movement in government”, which had 129,000 followers and almost 700,000 interactions in three months, “Beppe Grillo for President”, “Lega Salvini Sulmona” — which had 307,000 followers” — “Lega Salvini Premier Santa Teresa of Riva”, and “We Are 5 Stars.” The most active page in support of the Lega party was among those closed, just as polls are showing that the Lega is currently the party with the most support among Italians for the upcoming elections. Facebook’s efforts in Italy to influence the European elections are just the tip of the iceberg, Italian media noted. According to the Italian daily La Repubblica, on May 2 Facebook opened a “war room” in Dublin devoted full time to the European electoral campaign, with 40 teams of engineers, scientists, researchers, threat specialists, and experts for each country. There are 500 people working on the elections, with the assistance of 21 supposed “fact-checkers,” operating in 14 different languages.



EXCLUSIVE: Facebook Includes Candace Owens On ‘Hate Agents’ List
Breitbart News

URL: https://www.breitbart.com/tech/2019/05/ ... ents-list/
Category: Politics
Published: May 17, 2019

Description: Facebook maintains a list of “hate agents” for monitoring and potential termination, according to a source inside the company. Among the names reportedly on the “hate agent” list? Star pundit and black conservative activist Candace Owens. According to the source, a Facebook employee who spoke exclusively to Breitbart News, the spreadsheet of “hate agents” that includes Owens was posted to an internal employee discussion group initially founded by Brian Amerige, the former Facebook engineer who quit the company over concerns about political intolerance. The source claimed that the spreadsheet includes the names of prominent right-wing and alternative media figures who were recently banned from the platform. Candace Owens is also included in the spreadsheet, in a separate category marked “extra credit.” A Facebook spokeswoman confirmed to Breitbart News that the list exists, and did not deny that Owens’ name appears on it, but believes that there has not yet been an investigation into her. The spokeswoman also confirmed that the “hate agents” list, which was created in April, was related to the high-profile bans of alternative media figures (including Paul Joseph Watson and Laura Loomer) that occurred on May 2nd. Breitbart’s source was able to obtain a partial screenshot of the spreadsheet before the current owner of the discussion group began locking people out in response to the internal leak. The partial screenshot reveals that Owens’ name is indeed on the list, along with the instruction for Facebook employees to “look into” her “after we’re done with the above designation analysis.” The spreadsheet also appears to track with Owens has or is associated with any “affiliated hate entities.” The source agreed that the “extra credit” category refers to individuals that Facebook has not yet banned, but is likely to investigate for potential “hate speech” violations and potential banning. This exclusive story was sent to Breitbart News on the same day that Owens “mistakenly” received seven-day suspension from Facebook for criticizing liberal attitudes towards African-Americans, a topic frequently raised by Owens in her public appearances. Her post called on Black Americans to “wake up to the great liberal hoax,” and recognize that “liberal supremacy” is currently a greater threat to black Americans than white supremacy.
Dear @realDonaldTrump, My @facebook page has been suspended for 7 days for posting that white supremacy is not a threat to black America, as much as father absence and & liberal policies that incentivize it, are. I am censored for posting the poverty rates in fatherless homes.

realcandaceo.jpg

— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) May 17, 2019


For this post, Owens received a 7-day ban from Facebook. Facebook has since reversed the ban, stating that they restored her post and removed the block on her account “after confirming that the content didn’t violate our policies.” In a comment to Breitbart News, a Facebook spokeswoman said:
“As we said earlier today, we mistakenly applied a temporary block to Candace Owens’ account that we have since restored. We recently announced a group of people that we removed from our services for violating our policies. Candace Owens was not one of those people.”

Previous leaks from Facebook have exposed how the platform developed a “deboosting algorithm”designed to covertly suppress (or “shadowban”) certain content-creators on the platform, making their posts less likely to appear on the feeds of users. According to a Facebook insider who spoke to Project Veritas, this code has been used against prominent conservatives on the platform. Facebook’s recent censorship surge comes amid pressure from foreign governments to clamp down on hate speech. A recent conference of world leaders dubbed the “Christchurch Call for Action” saw the leaders of France, Canada, Germany, Britain and New Zealand among others demanding crackdowns against “violent extremism” on the internet. The White House refused to co-sign the call for action, citing free speech concerns – but Twitter, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and a number of other tech companies were quick to put their names to the declaration.



EXCLUSIVE: More Names on FACEBOOK ‘Hate Agents’ List Revealed, Including Brigitte Gabriel
Breitbart News

URL: https://www.breitbart.com/tech/2019/05/ ... e-gabriel/
Category: Politics
Published: May 20, 2019

Description: Lebanese-American conservative author and religion critic Brigitte Gabriel (born Hanan Qahwaji) is also on an internal list of “Hate Agents” maintained by Facebook, Breitbart News can exclusively reveal. Breitbart News exposed the existence of the “Hate Agents” list last week, after a Facebook insider leaked a partial screenshot showing black conservative leader Candace Owens was also on the list. The insider, who leaked the information to Breitbart, also shared a partial image of the list. Following the leak, Facebook admitted that the list exists, but stressed that Owens had not yet been investigated. More names and details about the list have since been leaked to Breitbart. Copies of the list obtained by concerned Facebook employees appear to have been updated in April, before the recent round of high-profile bans. The list, an excel spreadsheet, features mostly right-wing figures and some left-wingers, along with examples of “signals” that suggest the individuals might be “hate agents.” The signals are divided into Level One (signals that occurred in the past year), Level Two (two years) and Level Three (three years). Signals include hate speech, support for a “designated hate entity” or “designated hateful ideology,” calls for violence, the promotion of ethnostates, acts of violence from supporters, and possession of “hate paraphernalia.” The spreadsheet also includes a “recommendations” field next to each individual name. In this field, Facebook employees can advise whether the individual should be categorized as a “Hate Agent” or not, and if they should be removed from the platform. It is unclear who at Facebook oversees the designation of “Hate Agents.” Brigitte Gabriel, founder of the Islamic extremism watchdog ACT! For America, was added to the spreadsheet in the main category. Under “Level Two Signals,” a Facebook employee notes that Gabriel might face a potential violation for having security at an event provided by a “DOrg” (designated hate organization), although the name of the organization is not mentioned. The Facebook employee also notes that Gabriel “spoke at a Christians United for Israel event where she compared Arabs to barbarians,” a comment they describe as “Tier 1 Hate Speech.” Another instance of “Tier 1 Hate Speech” cited by Facebook is Gabriel “comparing Muslims to a disease ‘Islamic Cancer’”. The spreadsheet explains that “public statements, or statements made in private and later made public” can be categorized as Hate Speech by Facebook. Even though the first incident occurred in 2007 and the second in 2015, both are included as “Level Two Signals,” which the spreadsheet describes as incidents that occurred in the past two years. Another incident noted as a level two hate-signal is Gabriel’s description of Siraj Ibn Wahhaj as a “depraved Muslim terrorist.” Wahhaj was arrested along with other Muslims at a makeshift training camp in New Mexico, and was charged with conspiracy to commit terror attacks – yet Facebook employees think labeling him a “depraved terrorist” might be over the line. A spokesperson for Brigitte Gabriel confirmed that she faced a 24-hour ban on Facebook for the comment when it was made several months ago. Unlike other individuals on the list, Facebook employees had not yet added a recommended course of action for Gabriel at the time the list was obtained. However, in the “notes” section it contains this ominous message: “FB: 1 lifetime deletion for hate speech – dehumanizing.” Facebook did not respond to Breitbart News’ request for comment.



EXCLUSIVE: Facebook ‘Hate Agents’ List Includes British Candidates for European Election
Breitbart News

URL: https://www.breitbart.com/tech/2019/05/ ... -election/
Category: Politics
Published: May 22, 2019

Description: The leader of a British political party and a candidate in tomorrow’s European elections are both included on Facebook’s list of potential “Hate Agents,” Breitbart News can exclusively reveal. Carl Benjamin, YouTube star and candidate for UKIP in tomorrow’s European elections and Anne-Marie Waters, founder of the For Britain party and director of Sharia Watch UK are both included. The inclusion of electoral candidates is significant, given that Facebook has been under siege by the media for over two years for the facilitation of “election meddling.” A Facebook insider tipped off Breitbart News to the existence of the “Hate Agents” list last week, revealing that Candace Owens was included on it. A Facebook spokeswoman later confirmed the existence of the list, while stressing that Owens had not yet been investigated. Breitbart News has since obtained the full list as it existed in late April. The list encourages Facebook employees to collect examples of “signals” – both on the platform and off it – to determine if individuals ought to be categorized as “hate agents” and potentially blacklisted from the platform. The signals are divided into Level One, Level Two, and Level Three, ranked by time. A level one – the most serious – is a signal that occurred within the past year, whereas a level three is a signal that occurred within the past three years. Under level two signals, Benjamin is charged with giving a “neutral representation of John Kinsman, member of Proud Boys” on October 21 last year. Facebook filed this entry under a column marked “praise or support for a designated Hate Entity.” Notably, even though Facebook admits the representation was “neutral,” this is still categorized as a potential hate signal. When discussing Facebook-designated wrongpersons, it seems only outright condemnation is good enough for Mark Zuckerberg’s social network. Under “Level Three” signals, the authors of the list note that the platform has removed several pieces of content from Benjamin’s Facebook and/or Instagram pages in the past three years. They list the following, some of which are tagged as “borderline” cases:
* delete, hate speech, intersex result of inbreeding/genetic deformity (borderline), July 21, 2017
* delete, supporting statement of inferiority against Germans, Tier 2, Sept 16, 2017
* delete, “kill whitey” (borderline zoom into ‘stop the hate’), Oct 2, 2017
* delete, use of slur (faggot), Jan 4, 2018
In a column marked “individual promotes the creation of an ethnostate,” an entry is inexplicably added in which Benjamin mocks the positions of the alt-right (who do want an ethnostate).
* representing ideology of an ethnostate, Jan 5 2018
However, under “notes,” a Facebook employee makes a critical concession: “Most content is anti-communist/fascist/feminist/socialist. He’s not explicitly hateful and even criticizes the “alt right” for wanting to build an ethnostate.” Although not categorized as “hate signals,” the “notes” field also contains more examples of apparently problematic content from Benjamin.
* delete, bullying, mocking physical harm, April 16, 2017
* borderline, cartoon violence against vulnerable people, May 25, 2017
* borderline, call for death in image but no condemnation, Aug 11, 2017
* delete, bullying, comparing Shaun King to a dog, Aug 22, 2017
* delete, representing hate figure’s (Hitler) ideology in a meme, Nov 8, 2017
* MAC, Poundland post with ‘teabagging’ elf on the shelf, Dec 25, 2017
Despite being tagged with “delete,” most of these links are still online – it’s unclear whether these posts are scheduled for deletion later, or whether Facebook has simply decided not to follow these internal recommendations. Anne-Marie Waters, a prominent critic of Islam, former Labour party candidate and founder of the For Britain party is also on the list. Under Level One signals, the list highlights:
* Sept 2017: Waters joined forces with Tommy Robinson to form a British version of the German anti-Muslim group Pegida (https://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/u ... -1.3237565)
* Nov 2017 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-IM4wtEr4No (31:55 timestamp) Evidence of organizing with Jack Diamond, Generation Identity UK
Both entries are added under a column marked “Individual has organized or sponsored events or appearances with a designated Hate Entity with the intention to promote and/or associate with the Hate Entity (except Hate Agents) and/or their cause.” Notably both incidents did not occur on Facebook – an indication that, like Twitter, the platform punishes users for offsite behavior. Under Level Three signals, the list highlights:
* Nov 2017: Called Muslim ‘fuckers’ and called for banning Muslim integration: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-IM4wtEr4No)
* ‘Muslims are raping women in Rotherham’ (https://gab.com/AMDWaters/posts/a3o0ajN ... dONjE3Zz09)
The entries are under a column marked “Individual has made public statements, or statements made in private and later made public, using Tier 1, 2, or 3 hate speech or slurs” The column also explains how many instances are required for the “hate speech” to count as a “signal.”
* “. 3 instances in one statement or appearance = signal”
* “. 5 instances in multiple statements or appearances over one month = signal”
Breitbart News has reached out to Facebook for comment.
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