By: Jenilyn Brhel
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe
LONDON, England – In response to mounting pressure, Facebook has banned the group Britain First, a far-right Anti-Muslim group that was promoted by President Trump on Twitter last year.
Facebook announced on Wednesday, March 7th that it had taken down several pages associated with the group due to their repeated violations of the social media network’s community standards.
In a statement, Facebook said: “We are an open platform for all ideas, and political speech goes to the heart of free expression. But political views can and should be expressed without hate. People can express robust and controversial opinions without needing to denigrate others on the basis of who they are.”
Britain First is estimated to have about 1,000 members. To spread its belief that Islam is destroying Britain, members have used tactics such as confronting Muslims on the street and in mosques.
In November 2017, President Trump amplified the group’s hate-mongering rhetoric by retweeting several of the group’s anti-Muslim videos, a first for a modern American president.
The President’s behavior was condemned by British Prime Minister Theresa May as well as human rights groups. He cancelled a trip to Britain in January 2018.
The anti-fascist organization called HOPE Not Hate reported that the Britain First Facebook page has over 2 million likes, making it one of the most-liked political Facebook pages, second only to the royal family.
Two leaders of the group, Paul Golding and Fayda Fransen, were recently convicted of religiously aggravated harassment hate crimes and given jail sentences. The two posted videos online of them harassing Muslims at their homes in 2017.
Facebook says that this decision has not been made lightly. The platform is intended to be an open forum for ideas and beliefs. However, “there are times when legitimate political speech crosses the line and becomes hate speech,” the company said.
The group was given several warnings that its content was violating Facebook’s standards regarding hate speech. When it did not comply with the requests, the page was removed. The group may not establish a replacement page.
Matthew Collins, head of research at HOPE Not Hate, called Facebook’s decision to remove the group’s page “long overdue…We are delighted that Facebook has finally faced up to its responsibility as a publishing platform and removed this hate-preaching organization.”
“I call on social media companies to show a stronger duty of care so that they can live up to their promise to be places that connect and unify, not divide or polarize,” said Sadiq Khan, London’s mayor.
For more information, please see:
CBS News – Facebook Bans Anti-Muslim Group Retweeted by Trump – 14 March 2018
USA Today – Why Facebook Banned anti-Muslim group Britain First – 14 March 2018
The New York Times – Facebook Blocks Britain First, a Far-Right Anti-Muslim Group Promoted by Trump – 14 March 2018
The New York Times – Anti-Muslim Extremists Retweeted by Trump Are Convicted of Hate Crimes – 8 March 2018
NBC News – Facebook Bans Britain First for Inciting ‘Animosity and Hatred’ Against Minorities – 14 March 2018
The Washington Post – Facebook Removes Home Page of Far-Right Group Britain First – 14 March 2018