Link-banning is Facebook's terrifying new censorship tool

Drew Angerer  Getty Images

Drew Angerer Getty Images

This week's ban extends to Instagram, another popular platform also owned by Facebook. On Thursday, Jones and InfoWars will be barred from Instagram as well.

Farrakhan was booted from the social media site, along with other controversial figures including InfoWars pundit Alex Jones, Laura Loomer, Milo Yiannopoulos and Paul Joseph Watson.

Facebook cited its rules on "hate organizations" in justifying its bans on Jones, Yiannopoulos, Farrakhan and others, but has been accused by many commenters as engaging in outright censorship. "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.

Facebook's Community Standards policy on "Dangerous Individuals and Organizations" states that it seeks to prevent "real-world harm" by forbidding accounts "that proclaim a violent mission or are engaged in violence", which it defines as including "organized hate" in addition to numerous violent or criminal acts.

Trump Jr.'s tweet marked his latest criticism of tech companies on grounds that they silence conservatives, a charge that Facebook, Google and Twitter long have denied. "In an authoritarian society controlled by a handful of Silicon Valley giants, all dissent must be purged".

Spokespeople for Facebook and Trump Jr. did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But beyond the bans on individuals, Facebook has deployed an even more terrifying tool of censorship - link-banning. These critics suggested the announcement was created 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. Jones and others sharply criticized Facebook for its decision. "We are monitoring and watching, closely!"

Right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan are running out of places to espouse their views online.