Facebook ban for Dowson in crackdown on hate speech
A far-right leader in Northern Ireland has been banned from Facebook for violating the site's rules around promoting hate and violence.
The company has banned a number of far-right groups including the British National Party (BNP) and the English Defence League (EDL) from having any presence on the network.
The banned groups, which also include Knights Templar International, Britain First and the National Front, as well as key members of their leadership, have been removed from Facebook or Instagram.
Jim Dowson, a one time central figure in Christian militant group Knights Templar International, is a founder of Britain First.
Dowson, who is originally from Scotland but lives in Comber, Co Down, is a former member of the BNP and ran the party's fundraising operation from a Dundonald call centre.
He was one of the organisers of the loyalist City Hall flag protest that brought Belfast to a standstill and ended with violence on the streets.
The New York Times also claimed in a front page 2016 article that the former Orangeman was the mastermind of the Patriot News Agency, which disseminated false claims about Hillary Clinton during the US presidential election, including that she was linked to conspiracies involving Satanism, paedophilia and murder.
Facebook's policy does not allow groups or individuals which engage in "terrorist activity, organised hate, mass or serial murder, human trafficking or organised violence or criminal activity".
Britain First leader Paul Golding and his former deputy Jayda Fransen, who was convicted of stirring up hatred towards Muslims in Northern Ireland last month, are also banned.
Golding (37), a regular visitor to Northern Ireland, was acquitted on similar charges.
Convicted Neo-Nazi Jack Renshaw, who plotted to kill West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper and exact revenge on a female police officer who was investigating him for child sex offences, has also been banned.
Facebook said it uses an extensive process to determine which people or groups it designates as dangerous, using signals such as whether they have used hate speech and called for or directly carried out acts of violence against others based on factors such as race, ethnicity or national origin.
"Individuals and organisations 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 the social network said.
"Under our dangerous individuals and organisations policy, we ban those who proclaim a violent or hateful mission or are engaged in acts of hate or violence. The individuals and organisations we have banned today violate this policy and they will no longer be allowed a presence on Facebook or Instagram.
"Posts and other content which expresses praise or support for these figures and groups will also be banned.
"Our work against organised hate is ongoing and we will continue to review individuals, organisations, pages, groups and content against our community standards."
Former BNP leader Nick Griffin, EDL member Paul Ray and the National Front's Tony Martin have also been banned as part of the crackdown.
Golding and Fransen's official pages were removed by Facebook last year for violating the site's community standards, but the new ban will prevent them from having any presence on Facebook or Instagram, including a personal profile.
Praise and support by others for any of the groups or individuals named by Facebook will also no longer be allowed on either social platform.
In February Facebook announced a permanent ban for far-right activist Tommy Robinson - real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon - for behaving "in ways that violate our policies around organised hate".