March 23, 2018

Facebook removes page of far-right group Britain First

15 March 2018, 12:36 | Taylor George

Facebook bans pages of Britain First and leaders Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen

Protesters hold placards and British Union Jack flags during a protest titled'London march against terrorism in response to the March 22 Westminster terror attack

Free speech or hate speech?

Facebook has banned Britain First (BF) leaders from using its platform, just days after the group's leaders, Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen, were jailed for a series of hate crimes committed against Muslims.

Britain First was a largely unknown marginal group before Trump retweeted three inflammatory anti-Muslim videos it posted in November. That made it the second most liked Facebook page in British politics and society-only the royal family (which has over four million likes) is more popular.

The removal of the Britain First pages comes as Facebook and other internet firms like Twitter and Google are under growing pressure to police their networks, refereeing content to prevent extremist groups spreading their messages and recruiting online. "[But] there are times though when legitimate political speech crosses the line and becomes hate speech created to stir up hatred against groups in our society".

"Political parties, like individuals and all other organisations on Facebook, must abide by these standards and where a Page or person repeatedly breaks our Community Standards we remove them". Its announcement added that the pair had "repeatedly broken our Community Standards" and that recently they received a "written final warning". When this went viral, Twitter suspended the Britain First account, and two months later, President offered a questionable apology for his actions.

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Facebook has taken down the account of Britain First, a far-right party with a massive following on the platform, for "content created to incite animosity and hatred against minority groups", the company said.

ReutersPaul Golding, the leader of Britain First, speaks at a rally held in central London, April 1, 2017.

Both Golding and Fransen recently received prison sentences for religiously-aggravated harassment.

The decision to ban Britain First is a major move for Facebook, which has struggled to determine how to enforce its rules against hate speech and has been repeatedly criticized for how it classifies hate speech. Facebook did not say which content specifically got the party booted off the platform, but The Guardian reported that it included a post that compared Muslim immigrants to animals.

Britain First had almost twice as many Facebook likes as the United Kingdom's mainstream Labour Party, which has only one million followers.

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