Facebook bans Proud Boys accounts, groups after New York assault


gavin mcinnes vice proud boys maga cap
Activist
Gavin McInnes takes part in an Alt Right protest of Muslim
Activist Linda Sarsour on May 25, 2017 in New York
City.

Stephanie Keith/Getty
Images


  • Facebook is banning accounts and groups associated with
    The Proud Boys, a far-right extremist group linked to political
    violence in the US.
  • Earlier in October, five members of the Proud Boys were
    arrested after a violent incident with protesters in New York
    City. 
  • Groups with tens of thousands of members have been
    removed, and supporters of The Proud Boys are complaining on
    Twitter.
  • A Facebook spokesperson told Business Insider that the
    organisation violates its rules against hate groups.

Facebook is banning accounts and pages associated with the Proud
Boys, a far-right extremist group whose members assaulted
protesters in New York City earlier in October.

On Tuesday, Twitter users began reporting that Facebook was
taking down groups and accounts (both public-facing and personal)
linked to members of the organisation, which has been involved in
instances of political violence in the US.

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed to Business Insider that the
company is banning The Proud Boys and founder Gavin McInnes from
both Facebook and Instagram, pointing to Facebook’s rules against
hate groups.

The takedowns come after members of the Proud Boys allegedly
attacked protesters following an event in New York on October 12.
Members of the group
reportedly shouted homophobic slurs as they beat and kicked
protesters
, and
at least five Proud Boys have since been arrested
.

The move by Facebook will deprive the extremist organisation of
its primary channel for recruitment and publicity — but it only
comes months after other tech firms took action against the
group.

Proud Boys was founded by Gavin McInnes, also known as a
cofounder of the media organization Vice, and describes its
members as “Western Chauvinists.” The Southern Poverty Law Center
(SPLC), an extremism watchdog organisation,
designates it as a hate group
. One of the Proud Boys’
initiation rites
involves physical violence against left-wing antifascists
.

Jason Kessler, one of the organizers of the 2017 “Unite the
Right” white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville that resulted
in the death of a protester,
was reportedly a member of the Proud Boys.

In a statement, a Facebook spokesperson said: “Our team
continues to study trends in organized hate and hate speech and
works with partners to better understand hate organizations as
they evolve. We ban these organizations and individuals from our
platforms and also remove all praise and support when we become
aware of it.

“We will continue to review content, Pages, and people that
violate our policies, take action against hate speech and hate
organizations to help keep our community safe.”


The SPLC has previously revealed
how the organisation used
Facebook as a recruitment tool, setting up private groups for
“vetting” prospective members. “While Twitter has received
significant criticism for verifying Proud Boys accounts,
it’s Facebook that appears to provide the recruitment machinery
for the group,” it wrote.

As of writing, some major Proud Boys groups, including one with
20,000 members
, are offline, with Facebook showing users a
“This page isn’t available message” — while others, including the
page of McInnes, are still available. 

Facebook lagged behind its peers in removing The Proud
Boys;
Twitter banned the organisation and its founder back in August,
BuzzFeed News reported at the time
.  

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