Facebook bans white nationalist over hate speech

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – Facebook (FB) has banned the Facebook and Instagram accounts of a white nationalist who attended the rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that ended in deadly violence.

Facebook spokeswoman Ruchika Budhraja tells The Associated Press that the profile pages of Christopher Cantwell have been removed as well as a page connected to his podcast. Cantwell was featured in a Vice News documentary about the rally and its aftermath. The social networking giant has also removed at least eight pages connected to the white nationalist movement over what Budhraja says were violations on the company's polices on hate speech and organizations.

"There is no place for hate in our community," Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a post on the site. "That's why we've always taken down any post that promotes or celebrates hate crimes or acts of terrorism -- including what happened in Charlottesville. With the potential for more rallies, we're watching the situation closely and will take down threats of physical harm."

Cantwell, of Keene, New Hampshire, was listed on rally flyers and labeled an extremist by the Southern Poverty Law Center. A former information technology worked who moved to New Hampshire from New York in 2012, the 36-year-old Cantwell describes himself as a white nationalist and said he voted for President Donald Trump. He has a podcast and blog that promote his views.

Cantwell says Facebook shut down his account in an attempt to silence him for his views.  He also said his PayPal account had been closed. The company wouldn't confirm because it has a policy of not commenting on the status of accounts.

"I'm not surprised by almost any of this because the whole thing we are complaining about here is that we are trying to express our views, and everybody is going through extraordinary lengths to make sure we are not heard," Cantwell said in a phone interview from an undisclosed location.

"Frankly, whatever you think of my views, that is very scary to me," he said. "Facebook and Instagram is one thing, but not being able to participate in the financial system because of your political opinions is something that, you know, people should worry about in America."

PayPal (PYPL) has stopped processing financial contributions and handling other transactions for more than three dozen hate groups and other extremist organizations, CBS News reported Wednesday. The groups include Unity and Security for America, which is operated by an organizer of the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, and  Altright.com, a white nationalist organization led by Richard Spencer.

Zuckerberg said that while Facebook believes in promoting debate, attacking others because of their beliefs or background is "unacceptable."

"I know a lot of us have been asking where this hate comes from. As a Jew, it's something I've wondered much of my life," he said in his post. "It's a disgrace that we still need to say that neo-Nazis and white supremacists are wrong -- as if this is somehow not obvious."