Supporters of “Britain First” stage a protest against refugees at the Piccadilly Circus in London.
Facebook has removed the official page for far-right group Britain First, which it says has repeatedly violated its community standards.
Party leaders Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen have also had their Facebook pages taken down.
Facebook stressed that the group was not banned because of its political beliefs, but for violating its community standards. It said in a published statement that controversial political opinions are welcome on Facebook, but those views must be expressed without hatred:
“Some political opinions might be controversial, but it is important that different views can be shared and we are very careful not to remove posts or Pages just because some people don’t like them.
We are an open platform for all ideas and political speech goes to the heart of free expression. 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.”
The social media titans have been scrambling in recent months to deal with challenges ranging from hate speech and abuse to automated bots fueling controversies. Facebook, which has more than 2 billion monthly users, last year it removes about 66,000 posts a week — around 288,000 monthly — because of what it considers hateful rhetoric.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted that he welcomed the decision. “Britain First is a vile and hate-fuelled group whose sole purpose is to sow division,” he wrote on Twitter.
Originally published March 14 at 5:52 a.m. PT.
Updated at 6:32 a.m. PT: Adds comment from Sadiq Khan.
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