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YouTube clamps down on Tommy Robinson but avoids complete ban

The activist’s videos will be harder to find and less visible on the only big online space not to ban him.

Tommy Robinson (Joe Giddens/PA)
Tommy Robinson (Joe Giddens/PA)

YouTube has clamped down on Tommy Robinson by putting a number of restrictions on his account but stopped short of banning the activist completely despite mounting pressure to do so.

The Google-owned platform has faced calls to follow Facebook and Instagram in permanently banning Mr Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon.

YouTube said that although the 36-year-old’s videos are not illegal, it decided to apply tougher treatment in response to users flagging his content as potentially violating its rules against hate speech and violent extremism.

The content will be placed behind an interstitial, removed from recommendations, and stripped of key features including live streaming, comments, suggested videos and likes YouTube spokeswoman

The restrictions mean that all of the activist’s videos now come with a content warning before anyone is able to watch them and are removed from recommendations, while users can no longer comment, suggest or like the videos.

Mr Robinson, who has more than 387,000 followers on his YouTube channel, will also be blocked from live streaming.

Any videos of this kind are blocked from using monetisation tools to earn money, though adverts on Mr Robinson’s YouTube channel had already been suspended since January for breaching the site’s advertising guidelines.

“After consulting with third-party experts, we are applying a tougher treatment to Tommy Robinson’s channel in keeping with our policies on borderline content,” a YouTube spokeswoman said.

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YouTube is the last big online platform where you can find Tommy Robinson’s content (Nick Ansell/PA)

“The content will be placed behind an interstitial, removed from recommendations, and stripped of key features including live streaming, comments, suggested videos and likes.”

YouTube is Mr Robinson’s last big online space, after bans on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and PayPal.

Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson and Damian Collins, chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, are among the growing number of voices who are calling for the activist to be shut down online.

Mr Watson sent a letter to Google’s chief executive Sundar Pichai, saying: “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 Robinson has previously said that efforts to ban him online were part of the “corrupt media and the establishment” trying “to silence any opposition to their globalist plans”.

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