Right-wing political activist Tommy Robinson has been banned from Facebook and Instagram, making it the latest social network to take action against the English Defence League founder.
In a blog post published today, Facebook claimed Robinson’s (aka Stephen Yaxley-Lennon) Facebook page, which had about 1m likes, had “repeatedly” broken its community standards on “hate speech”.
It said its rules “make clear that individuals and organisations that are engaged in ‘organised hate’ are not allowed on the platform, and that praise or support for these figures and groups is also banned. This is true regardless of the ideology they espouse.
“Tommy Robinson’s Facebook Page has repeatedly broken these standards, posting material that uses dehumanising language and calls for violence targeted at Muslims.
“He has also behaved in ways that violate our policies around organised hate. As a result, in accordance with our policies, we have removed Tommy Robinson’s official Facebook Page and Instagram profile.
“This is not a decision we take lightly, but individuals and organizations that attack others on the basis of who they are have no place on Facebook or Instagram.”
The action comes ahead of a Government White Paper on online harms, expected to be published in the spring, and follows the UK’s “fake news” inquiry’s final report, which took aim at the tech giant.
MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee recommended establishing a new code of ethics for social media companies – setting out what constitutes harmful content – to be overseen by a regulator.
Labour deputy leader and Shadow Culture Secretary Tom Watson said on Twitter he welcomed Facebook’s decision to remove pages under their “organised hate” policy, but said it had come “far too late”.
He accused Robinson of “hate-spewing, anti-Islamist tirades” which “were given a platform by Facebook”.
Watson added: “The public interest demands an end to laissez-faire regulation, so we can create a place where reasonable debate can take place without trolls, extremists and racist thugs seeking to damage and undermine society.
“That requires an independent social media regulator with teeth.”
Youtube suspended adverts on Robinson’s account in January and in March last year he was permanently banned from Twitter. The BBC reported that Robinson was judged to have breached Twitter’s “hateful conduct” policy.
Picture: Reuters/Andrew Winning