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Facebook bans far-right groups under dangerous organisations policy

Groups such as the English Defence League and Britain First, and individuals linked to the groups, will no longer be allowed any presence on Facebook.

(Dominic Lipinski/PA)
(Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Facebook has banned far-right groups including the British National Party (BNP) and the English Defence League (EDL) from having any presence on the social network for violating the site’s rules around promoting hate and violence.

The banned groups, which also includes Knights Templar International, Britain First and the National Front as well as key members of their leadership, have been removed from both Facebook or Instagram.

The social network’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”.

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.

Under our dangerous individuals & 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 Facebook spokeswoman

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 & 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, Britain First leaders Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen, EDL member Paul Ray, Knights Templar International’s Jim Dowson 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”.

Yvette Cooper, chairwoman of the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, said Facebook’s action had been “long overdue”.

“We have been calling on social media companies, including Facebook, to act urgently on this for a number of years and it should not take events like the terrible attack in Christchurch and the subsequent external pressure to prompt meaningful action. This has been far too slow. Other companies also need to do much more,” she said.

“For too long social media companies have been facilitating extremist and hateful content online and profiting from the poison. They have particularly failed on far-right extremism as they don’t even have the same co-ordination systems for platforms to work together as they do on Islamist extremism. For some time we have been calling on all social media companies to take far-right extremism much more seriously.”

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