Facebook and Google have been under fire for providing a nest for right-wing conservatives. “Fake news” articles frequently circle without abandon on Facebook and stir up vitriol, fear, and hatred.
Last week, Facebook took concrete steps to repair its image and push a harmful atmosphere off the social media site. Facebook banned a number of high-profile figures that circulate hate speech, including Paul Joseph Watson, Louis Farrakhan (Nation of Islam founder), and the right-wing personality Laura Loomer. Alex Jones, the noted conspiracy theorist, and his site InfoWars have also been banned from Instagram. The ban means that these individuals are prevented from using Facebook for life, and any account that is set up for them will also be banned.
Michelle Goldberg, a New York Times opinion columnist, writes that just at the moment where Facebook is trying to squash hate speech, President Donald Trump is amplifying the voices that give rise to it. He retweeted Mr. Watson’s request for support after Mr. Watson was banned from Facebook. President Trump also even tweeted an InfoWars video.
Ms. Goldberg spoke with Richard Spencer, a neo-Nazi who achieved fame and notoriety after he was punched in the face during President Trump’s inauguration. Mr. Spencer says that he himself has become disillusioned with President Trump because President Trump hasn’t done more to prevent mainstream sites from banning people who support and circulate extremist messages. Many far-right individuals have hopped from Facebook and Twitter to platforms like Discord and Gab to discuss their views.
Mr. Spencer said that President Trump is not endorsing the far-right in any way, but, as Ms. Goldberg argues, President Trump is actually doing the opposite: he’s openly supporting it. Mr. Watson specifically made a video about how Trump had retweeted him. Ms. Goldberg notes that if the President thinks InfoWars is a reliable source, his far-right supporters are bound to support him.