Update (5/15/20): Two of the Facebook pages noted in this article that had seemingly associated themselves with Infowars and banned.video -- @FreeInfoWarsNOW and @TheMostBannedNetworkInTheWorld -- have since been taken down.
Facebook is allowing coronavirus misinformation from conspiracy theory outlet Infowars to circulate on the social media platform, despite announcing last year that it would ban Infowars content. Videos from the Infowars-affiliated streaming platform banned.video -- along with groups and pages that associate themselves with that streaming platform -- are still appearing on Facebook, in the latest effort to evade the company's spotty enforcement.
Last May, Facebook banned multiple far-right figures from Facebook and Instagram, including Alex Jones and other Infowars personalities. According to The Atlantic at the time, Facebook going forward would “remove any content containing Infowars videos, radio segments, or articles (unless the post is explicitly condemning the content),” and would “also remove any groups set up to share Infowars content and events promoting any of the banned extremist figures.”
Yet Media Matters found numerous links and videos on Facebook from banned.video, an Infowars streaming platform that is operated by Jones' company Free Speech Systems, LLC. The site hosts videos from Jones and various Infowars personalities as well as other far-right figures, and Infowars has used the platform to continue spreading conspiracy theories. A Media Matters review of the banned.video site found at least 11 videos posted since March -- all about the novel coronavirus pandemic and each of which have hundreds of thousands of views on the platform -- that have also received tens of thousands of Facebook engagements combined, according to the tracking tool BuzzSumo. And since many videos are posted on banned.video every day, the Infowars streaming platform’s total engagement number on Facebook is likely much higher.
One of the videos Media Matters found posted on Facebook from banned.video was a copy of “Plandemic,” the coronavirus conspiracy theory video that went viral on social media and which Facebook had also pledged to remove from the platform. While it had been labeled “false information” under Facebook’s third-party fact-checking partnership, the banned.video copy remained on the platform and was shared by multiple users.
Other banned.video content shared by Facebook users include a video about the supposed “coronavirus hoax,” a video pushing the false conspiracy theory that 5G technology somehow caused the pandemic, and a video featuring Jones attacking Dr. Anthony Fauci -- with one such post on the social media platform receiving more than 230,000 views.
Media Matters also discovered a “Banned.Video” Facebook page that seems to affiliate itself with the site and appears to share clips from Infowars shows on a daily basis. The page also runs Facebook groups with thousands of members, who in turn also have shared Infowars content from banned.video -- including conspiracy theories and misinformation about the coronavirus.
In addition to pages and groups, banned.video content has even showed up as a Facebook ad: One of the site’s copies of “Plandemic” was linked to in a Facebook-approved ad that was later removed after Media Matters reported it.