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Facebook, Instagram ban UK far-right figure

February 27, 2019

Tommy Robinson has been banned from the social media giant's platforms for violating "community standards" by promoting "organized hate." Robinson said removing his pages was tantamount to "removing the truth."

Tommy Robinson
Image: picture-alliance/empics/G. Fuller

Facebook has taken harsh measures against British far-right personality Tommy Robinson, banning him from its platforms and closing his Facebook page and Instagram profile.

Robinson is said to have violated Facebook's "community standards" by promoting "organized hate" and other prohibited behavior.

Specifically, the company noted in a statement that Robinson's pages had repeatedly broken its standards by "posting material that uses dehumanizing language and calls for violence targeted at Muslims."

"This is not a decision we take lightly, but individuals and organizations that attack others on the basis of who they are have no place on Facebook or Instagram," the social media giant said.

Anti-fascist and anti-racist organization Hope Not Hate welcomed the decision, referring to Robinson as "a far-right thug who uses his platform to bully, abuse and stir up division."

Read more: 15 years on, is it time to #DeleteFacebook?

'Removing the truth'

Robinson, former leader of the English Defence League and co-founder of PEGIDA UK, has condemned the decision. "Where is free speech? I've breached no laws of Facebook... What I've done is shown people the truth, and that is what they are removing, the truth," he told Britain's Press Association.

The 36-year-old is a highly divisive figure in the UK and has been previously convicted on drugs, assault and fraud charges, among others. He was sentenced to 13 months in jail last year for livestreaming outside a court in breach of reporting restrictions on a trial of a gang accused of sexual assault.

Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, has already been banned from Twitter, but his YouTube page remains active. Robinson told supporters on Monday via YouTube to join a mailing list "so I can contact you when I eventually get deleted."

Are tech giants out of control?

Facebook's role in Russia's 'fake news'

Facebook has been embroiled in scandals over its sharing of users' data without their consent and has been criticized for its platform's role in Russian "fake news" influence campaigns during the 2016 US presidential election.

A scathing parliamentary report released last week in the UK branded Facebook as "digital gangsters" who failed to fight the spread of fake news and violated data privacy.

Read more: Opinion: EU online copyright reform won't break the internet

jcg/cmk (dpa, AFP)

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