The ban is based on Facebook's desire to prevent dangerous content, but some, on the right and left argue that it's a slippery slope.
Facebook said Thursday it was banning Alex Jones, his Infowars platform, and other controversial U.S. political personalities for violating the social media company's policies on "dangerous individuals and organizations."
Most of the individuals whose accounts are being removed are popular figures on the far right, including commentators Milo Yiannopoulos, Laura Loomer and Paul Joseph Watson.
Facebook also said it is banning Paul Nehlen, an avowed white supremacist who ran for Congress in 2018, and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who has preached black separatism and referred to Jews as "termites."
The company will remove any accounts, pages, groups and events associated with the banned individuals, both on its core social network and its photo-sharing app Instagram. It says it bans any users who promote violence or hate.
However, Facebook stopped short of prohibiting other users from praising or supporting the banned individuals on its platforms, as it has done for militant groups like Islamic State and al-Qaeda in the past.
Hours after his account disappeared, videos of Louis Farrakhan were still visible on Instagram among the 17,000 posts with the hashtag #louisfarrakhan, including a video where he defends his descriptions of Jews.
"If it is truth, then it is not anti-Semitic," he says in the clip.
Facebook announced the ban before removing the affected accounts, giving the account owners time to redirect their thousands of followers to other channels before the accounts disappeared, as captured in screenshots by BuzzFeed journalist Ryan Mac.
Alex Jones, who has promoted conspiracy theories about the Sandy Hook school shooting and hosted Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes on his show, quickly opened a new account and live-streamed himself talking about the ban, CNBC reported.
Infowars, the website run by Jones, posted a response saying that the ban "... amounts to editorial control over user content - and a donation in kind to the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate."
Social media companies have also been accused of censoring voices on the left. In October, RT published a list of left-leaning alternative media sites that were banned by both Facebook and Twitter, including the Free Thought Project, The Anti-Media, and Police the Police.