Facebook has banned Britain First from its platform, saying the far-right group has “repeatedly posted content designed to incite animosity and hatred against minority groups”.
Britain First’s #Facebook page, which had more than 2m likes, and the pages of the two leaders, Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen, have been banned from the social network.
“We are an open platform for all ideas and political speech goes to the heart of free expression,” Facebook said in a statement. “But political views can and should be expressed without hate. People can express robust and controversial opinions without needing to denigrate others on the basis of who they are.”
“We have community standards that clearly state this sort of speech is not acceptable on Facebook and, when we become aware of it, we remove it as quickly as we can,” the company added. “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.” The group will also not be allowed to set up any further pages in future.
Facebook did not confirm which specific posts were responsible for the pages being removed, but the Guardian understands that they included one comparing Muslim immigrants to animals, another labelling the group’s leaders “Islamophobic and proud”, and videos created to incite hateful comments against Muslims.
Last week, Fransen and Golding were jailed for a series of hate crimes against Muslims. The pair, who received 36 weeks’ and 18 weeks’ imprisonment respectively, were arrested in May 2017 as part of an investigation into the distribution of leaflets and online videos posted during a trial at Canterbury crown court in the same month.
Britain First was deregistered as a political party in November 2017.