The NOI has utilized multiple media platforms to connect its members and spread its messages, though several social-media companies have taken down extremist posts by the group and/or Farrakhan, and, in some cases, have removed the NOI’s official accounts.
The NOI’s YouTube channel posted and hosted videos until YouTube terminated it on October 2, 2020, for violating the platform’s “[s]trict policies prohibiting hate speech on YouTube.” However, YouTube has not taken down the YouTube channels of the NOI’s European Headquarters, several NOI Temples, and numerous supporters of the group.
On May 2, 2019, Facebook declared Farrakhan’s rhetoric dangerous and shut down his account, as well as accounts belonging to related Facebook groups. Farrakhan’s account on Facebook-owned Instagram was also terminated. However, there are dozens of official and unofficial Nation of Islam pages and groups on Facebook. Some of those groups attempted to skirt the ban by changing their names.
NOI leaders are also active on Twitter, which continues to leave up Farrakhan and the NOI’s accounts. Twitter removed its verified-status checkmark from Farrakhan’s account in June 2018 after his account posted a tweet about “unmasking the Satanic Jew and the Synagogue of Satan,” along with a YouTube link to a three-hour sermon from that May. On October 16, 2018, Farrakhan posted on Facebook and Twitter a video of his speech in honor of the anniversary of the Million Man March. In the video Farrakhan declared, “[W]hen they talk about Farrakhan, call me a hater, call me anti-Semite. Stop it. I’m anti-termite.” Facebook removed the post for violating its hate-speech policies, but Twitter left the post online, claiming its policy against dehumanizing speech had not yet been implemented.
On July 9, 2019, Twitter introduced a new rule prohibiting the dehumanization of religious groups and called on Farrakhan to delete his 2018 tweet of the video of his “anti-termite” speech. On January 18, 2020, Twitter briefly suspended Farrakhan’s account, but later reinstated it and said the suspension was a mistake caused by an error in the company’s spam filter.
With these far-reaching platforms, Farrakhan has continued to inspire celebrities. In June 2020, comedian Chelsea Handler posted to her Instagram account a clip of Farrakhan on “The Phil Donahue Show.” Handler later apologized and removed the clip after initially defending it. Actress Jessica Chastain also shared the Farrakhan clip, while celebrities Jennifer Aniston, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Jennifer Garner liked the posting on Instagram. Chastain later deleted the clip from her account. In July 2020, Madonna posted to her Instagram account a video featuring Farrakhan declaring that the United States is “unraveling,” “cascading downward,” and “coming to an end.”
Farrakhan had been scheduled to give a Fourth of July speech on Fox Soul TV, part of Fox Corporation, but the channel canceled his appearance after a widespread backlash. Farrakhan’s speech was instead livestreamed on the NOI’s website and uploaded to the group’s YouTube channel. Rapper Sean “Diddy” Combs also broadcasted Farrakhan’s speech on his Revolt TV cable network.
Several professional athletes have also praised Farrakhan in 2020, eliciting widespread denunciation. That May, retired National Football League player Donovan McNabb shared on Twitter a picture of Farrakhan and a quote about seeking justice. On July 5, Desean Jackson of the Philadelphia Eagles football team praised Farrakhan on his Instagram account and shared a quote about Jews controlling the world that has been falsely attributed to Hitler. The owners of the Eagles swiftly condemned his comments and Jackson later apologized. On July 8, former National Basketball Association player Stephen Jackson defended Desean Jackson’s comments and accused “the Jews” of trying to divide the Black community while controlling the world’s wealth. Stephen Jackson went on to declare his “love” for Farrakhan. Since then, several prominent Black Americans have come out in defense of this “quote” and the sentiments behind it, including rapper and actor Ice Cube, comedian Nick Cannon, rapper Sean “Diddy” Combs, and author Alice Walker. All have quoted Farrakhan in defending Jackson’s initial post.
On October 16, 2020, while shouting “Allahu Akbar,” 18-year-old Abdoulakh Anzorov decapitated history teacher Samuel Paty in the Paris suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine. Paty had recently received death threats after showing caricatures of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad in class as part of a lesson on freedom of speech.