Facebook is moving to ban the Proud Boys, a far-right men’s organization with ties to white supremacist groups. Business Insider first reported the decision. Facebook confirmed the decision to ban the Proud Boys from Facebook and Instagram to TechCrunch, indicating that the group (and presumably its leader Gavin McInnes) now meet the company’s definition of a hate organization or figure.
Facebook provided the following statement:
“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.”
Even compared to other groups on the far right with online origins, the Proud Boys maximize their impact through social networking. The organization, founded by provocateur and Vice founder McInnes, relies on Facebook as its primary recruitment tool. As we reported in August, the Proud Boys operate a surprisingly sophisticated network for getting new members into the fold via many local and regional Facebook groups. All of it relies on Facebook — the Proud Boys homepage even links out to the web of Facebook groups to guide potential recruits toward next steps.
At the time of writing, Facebook’s ban appeared to affect some Proud Boys groups and not others. The profile of Proud Boys founder McInnes appears to still be functional. Facebook’s decision to act against the organization is likely tied to the recent arrest of five Proud Boys members in New York City on charges including assault, criminal possession of a weapon and gang assault.