Tech: Facebook is banning far-right militia Proud Boys after a violent attack in New York

Groups with tens of thousands of members have been removed, and Proud Boys supporters are complaining on Twitter.

  • 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, Proud Boys members were involved in a violent attack on protesters in New York, and five members have since been arrested.
  • Groups with tens of thousands of members have been removed, and Proud Boys supporters are complaining on Twitter.

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 that 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 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.

Proud Boys was founded by Gavin McInnes, one of the cofounders of media organization Vice, and describes its members as “Western Chauvenists.” The Southern Poverty Law Center, 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 saw a protester killed, 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.”

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.

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