Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson has called on Google’s YouTube to follow Facebook in banning activist Tommy Robinson from its service as “a matter of utmost urgency”.
Facebook took the decision on Tuesday to permanently ban Mr Robinson – whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon – across its social network and Instagram for posting “in ways that violate our policies around organised hate”, the company said.
In a letter to Google chief executive Sundar Pichai, Mr Watson claimed it is “quite clear from the comments threads on stories documenting this decision, Yaxley-Lennon supporters are transferring over their virulent hate to YouTube”.
He wrote: “I am now writing to implore you as a matter of utmost urgency to follow the lead that has been, belatedly, set by Facebook, and remove forthwith all ‘Tommy Robinson’ and related pages from your YouTube platform.”
Mr Watson said that social media platforms need to be accountable and not “avoid their social responsibilities” and noted his fears that the “virus” of Mr Robinson’s views could groom “countless” more followers via the platform.
Mr Robinson is already banned on Twitter, leaving Google-owned YouTube as the last big online space that the 36-year-old is able to post on, where he has more than 300,000 subscribers to his channel.
On Wednesday, Damian Collins, chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, joined the growing voices who are calling for Mr Robinson to be shut down online.
Mr Collins said: “His YouTube channel has hundreds of thousands of followers and includes films viewed by millions of people.
“Far-right groups are exploiting social media to spread their messages of hate, and the YouTube ‘next up’ feature helps them by directing viewers to even more of this content once, as soon as, they start to engage with it.”
YouTube operates a hate speech policy which removes content promoting violence or hatred against individuals or groups based on attributes including religion, race, immigration status or nationality.
Facebook has said the content Mr Robinson posted called for violence targeted at Muslims.
It is understood that the videos posted on his YouTube channel are different and do not currently breach the platform’s own hate speech rules.
YouTube also uses a ‘strikes’ system, giving offending users a warning and removing the specific video, before going into a three-strike process that eventually leads to the channel being terminated if policies are repeatedly violated.
Mr Robinson’s supporters have rallied behind him on social media, saying his ban on Facebook and Instagram goes against the right to free speech.
Reacting to the move on Tuesday, Mr Robinson claimed the “corrupt media and the establishment” were trying “to silence any opposition to their globalist plans”.
He said: “I’ve breached no laws of Facebook, everyone is going to know that I’ve breached no rules, what I’ve done is shown people the truth and that is what they are removing, the truth. People will still find me.”