Facebook Bans Far Right Groups and Leaders in the UK

Facebook Bans Far Right Groups and Leaders in the UK

Facebook has imposed a permanent ban on at least a dozen far-right groups and their leaders, saying they fall under the company’s new definition of “dangerous individuals and organizations.”

In what has been described as a direct blow to the freedom of speech, Facebook has deplatformed some of the UK’s biggest far-right organizations and leaders. The social media giant said that they have introduced a more strict set of rules when it comes to defining “hate speech” and “dangerous conduct,” with the bans being a natural response to the changed policy.

According to the BBC, groups affected by the ban include the British National Party (BNP), English Defence League (EDL), Britain First, Knights Templar International,  and the National Front. Apart from the group, twelve other individuals were also affected by the ban.

Nick Griffin, the leader of BNP, Paul Golding, the leader of Britain First, and its former deputy leader Jayda Fransen were all removed from Facebook and all of the other platforms it owns. The founder of EDL, Paul Ray, and the leader of the National Front, Tony Martin, were also named in the ban.

The company reportedly banned the groups for contravening its policy forbidding “terrorist activity, organized hate, mass or serial murder, human trafficking or organized violence or criminal activity”.

“Individuals and organizations who spread hate, or attack or call for the exclusion of others on the basis of who they are, have no place on Facebook,” a spokeswoman for Facebook told France24. “We ban those who proclaim a violent or hateful mission or are engaged in acts of hate or violence.”

The company also noted that post and other content that expresses praise or support for these figures and groups will also be banned from the site. The move follows Facebook’s recent ban of Tommy Robinson, a far-right UK activist, back in February. Shortly after Robinson’s removal from the social network, Facebook said it would be removing all white nationalist and white separatist content from its platforms, saying: “It’s clear that these concepts are deeply linked to organized hate groups and have no place on our services.”

Facebook’s crackdown on these fringe political groups was met with mixed reactions. Many UK politicians welcomed the move, including MP Yvette Cooper, chair of the Home Affairs Select committee. She said the ban was “long overdue,” as social media companies have been facilitating extremist and hateful content.

However, others have seen this as a dangerous form of deplatforming soaked in anti-conservative bias. Supporters of free speech have argued that almost no far-left political group has ever faced a similar ban, despite often being accused of calling for violence and spreading hateful content.

(Banner image: BritishNationalism/Wikimedia Commons)

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