Saying it did not make the decision lightly, Facebook has banned the page of anti-Muslim group Britain First, as well as the pages of the group’s leaders — who last week were jailed for hate crimes against Muslims.
Britain First’s Facebook page reportedly had more than 2 million likes before the social networking giant took it down, while the pages of Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen also had large followings, according to the BBC.
“[The pages had] repeatedly posted content designed to incite animosity and hatred against minority groups, which disqualifies the Pages from our service,” Facebook said in a blog post Wednesday.
Fransen, who last year tweeted out videos showing purported violence by Muslims and was retweeted by President Trump, was found guilty last week of religiously aggravated harassment — she and Golding reportedly targeted homes of people they believed to be responsible for a gang rape — and sentenced to 36 weeks. Golding was sentenced to 18 weeks in jail.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan applauded Facebook’s move.
“Facebook’s decision to remove Britain First content from its platform is welcome,” Khan tweeted Wednesday. “This is a vile and hate-fuelled group whose sole purpose is to sow division.”
Khan, who is Muslim, delivered a keynote speech at SXSW in Austin on Monday, during which he read abusive tweets and death threats directed at him. In that speech, he called on governments to regulate tech companies and for Facebook, Google and Twitter to do more to prevent the spread of hate speech on their platforms.
“Rather than blaming companies for innovating ahead of regulation, politicians must fix things when the regulation is out of date,” he said.
British Prime Minister Theresa May, leader of the Conservative Party who’s known to be tough on immigration, reportedly also welcomed the move.
But a quick search on Facebook now shows a Britain First page with 369 likes as of Wednesday morning. Its cover photo shows Fransen and Golding labeled as “political prisoners.”
The Britain First page Facebook said it banned — the one with more than 2 million likes — reportedly featured a photo of Fransen and Golding with the caption “Islamaphobic and proud.”
A post on the seemingly new page says “The next form of fascism will come from the left wing liberal’s against freedom of speech.” Facebook has not returned a request for comment about whether it plans to take down the page.
Late last year, Twitter suspended the accounts of Britain First and its leaders as part of a crackdown on hate and abuse — and in the process deleted Trump’s retweets of the videos Fransen had tweeted.
Source: East Bay Facebook bans anti-Muslim group Britain First, its leaders