One day after Facebook said it banned Louis Farrakhan, Alex Jones and other extremists in the effort to crack down on objectionable material such as hate, racism and anti-Semitism, protesters took the the streets of San Francisco to decry the social media giant's move as censorship.
Heavy police presence watched as dozens of #DemandFreeSpeech protesters and counter-protesters gathered at Civic Center Plaza in San Francisco Friday. Several prominent conservatives are scheduled to speak, including Laura Loomer, a conservative activist who was among people banned by Facebook Thursday.
"There’s no rationale, there’s no honesty to what Facebook is doing," a local organizer of the rally said. He objects to how social media platforms choose who gets censored.
Facebook said the newly banned accounts violated its policy against dangerous individuals and organizations. The company says it has always banned people or groups that proclaim a violent or hateful mission or are engaged in acts of hate or violence, regardless of political ideology.
It added that when it bans someone under this policy, the company said it also prohibits anyone else from praising or supporting them.
For years, social media companies have been under pressure from civil rights groups and other activists to clamp down on hate speech on their services. Following the deadly white nationalist protests in Charlottesville, South Carolina, in 2017, Google, Facebook and PayPal began banishing extremist groups and individuals who identified as or supported white supremacists.