Facebook removes official Britain First page
The group’s page, and those of leaders Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen, have been shut down by the social network.
Facebook has removed the official page of far-right group Britain First, along with those of party leader Paul Golding and deputy leader Jayda Fransen.
The social network said it had taken action after they repeatedly broke the site’s community standards on hate speech.
Mr Golding and Ms Fransen were jailed earlier this month after being convicted of religiously-aggravated harassment in Kent last year.
Facebook said they had continued to violate its rules despite issuing written final warnings over their conduct.
“Content posted on the Britain First Facebook page and the pages of party leaders Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen has repeatedly broken our Community Standards,” Facebook said.
“We recently gave the administrators of the pages a written final warning, and they have continued to post content that violates our Community Standards.
“As a result, in accordance with our policies, we have now removed the official Britain First Facebook page and the pages of the two leaders with immediate effect.
“We do not do this lightly, but they have repeatedly posted content designed to incite animosity and hatred against minority groups, which disqualifies the Pages from our service.”
Facebook confirmed the violating content included an image of the group’s leaders with the caption ‘Islamophobic and Proud’ and multiple videos which Facebook said had been posted deliberately to incite hateful comments against Muslims.
The social network also confirmed that the group will not be allowed to set up an official Facebook page in the future.
When questioned by MPs at the end of last year, Facebook policy head Simon Milner told the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee that Facebook was “reviewing” the group’s page after other social networks such as Twitter and YouTube suspended group accounts.
In response to questions over why the group had remained on the site, Mr Milner said Britain First had until recently been registered with the Electoral Commission and therefore “deemed legitimate” by the authorities, but there were “clearly issues” with the page.
He added the site was “very cautious” about political speech, and in Facebook’s statement on the page removal, the company reiterated its stance.
“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,” the social network said.
“People can express robust and controversial opinions without needing to denigrate others on the basis of who they are.”
Following its suspension from Twitter in December, Mr Golding said the group was looking for new social networks to join and urged supporters to follow.
Prime Minister Theresa May told the House of Commons that she welcomed Facebook’s decision, and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan also praised the move.
“Britain First is a vile and hate-fuelled group whose sole purpose is to sow division,” he said.
“Their sick intentions to incite hatred within our society via social media are reprehensible, and Facebook’s decision to remove their content is welcome.
“The global tech revolution has brought incredible benefits and social media is enjoyed by billions of people around the world. But big social media companies must wield the power they’ve amassed responsibly.
“I call on social media platforms 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 polarise.
“We know more can be done to remove content from people or groups who misuse these platforms for the purpose of inciting hatred or dividing communities.
“I trust the decision made by Facebook today reflects a genuine desire to do more to protect people online and I urge others to follow suit.”