A MEMBER of a neo-Nazi party gives a salute outside a speech by Richard Spencer on the campus of Michigan State University on March 5.
(photo credit: REUTERS/STEPHANIE KEITH)
Facebook on Thursday banned a range of far-right British groups for violating its policies against hate speech and incitement.
The social network officially removed pages belonging to groups including Britain First, the British National Party, the English Defense League, the National Front and other groups and individuals associated with nationalism and neo-Nazi politics.
“Individuals and organizations who spread hate, or attack or call for the exclusion of others on the basis of who they are, have no place on Facebook,” it said in a statement, according to BBC. “Under our dangerous individuals and organizations policy, we ban those who proclaim a violent or hateful mission or are engaged in acts of hate or violence.”
The social media platform said that all the groups and individuals included in the ban will not be allowed on any Facebook platform, which includes Instagram. It went further to note that “posts and other content which expresses praise or support for these figures and groups will also be banned.”
Knights Templar International, one of the banned groups, wrote on its website Thursday that due to “major tech companies purging patriot groups from their platforms” it would be moving to the social network Telegram.
A spokesman for the British National Party told The Financial Times on Thursday that he was “completely shocked. If we had been spreading hate, we would have had a visit from the police... but we haven’t. We are a legally registered and law-abiding group.”
The Board of Deputies of British Jews tweeted that it was “great news that Facebook have banned the far-right, including the BNP + EDL.”
And Labor MP Yvette Cooper said the move was long overdue.
“These measures are a necessary first step but there should additionally be independent regulation, as well as meaningful financial penalties for companies who are too slow to deal with illegal, violent and extremist content within a strict time frame,” she said, according to The Guardian. “All companies need to be accountable for the material they host or publish and take some responsibility. We all know the appalling consequences there can be if hateful, violent and illegal content is allowed to proliferate.”
Ivan Humble – a former EDL member, who now works to counter extremism – wrote in The Independent on Thursday that such a ban will have a very limited effect.
“By removing extremist forums, social media platforms may inadvertently drive vulnerable people underground and straight into the echo chambers we want them to avoid,” Humble wrote. “People need an outlet to ask questions and engage in debate, and social media platforms have the power – if used correctly – to provide that space, where education and safeguarding are key.”
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