Should Facebook Delete Pages Like ‘Britain First’?

Facebook has deleted the official ‘Britain first’ page on their website and the personal accounts associated with its current leaders, Paul golding and Jayda Fransen.

‘Britain First’ describe themselves as a “patriotic political party and street movement that opposes and fights the many injustices that are routinely inflicted on the British people”. However, Facebook say that “they have repeatedly posted content designed to incite animosity and hatred against minority groups” and have “disqualified” the pages as a result.

In a statement issued today, Facebook said: “This is an important issue which we take very seriously and we have written about how we define hate speech and take action against it in our Hard Questions series”. The statement also noted that the administrators of the ‘Britain First’ page were repeatedly warned about posts that did not adhere to their guidelines.

“Content posted on the Britain First Facebook Page and the Pages of party leaders Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen has repeatedly broken our Community Standards. We recently gave the administrators of the Pages a written final warning, and they have continued to post content that violates our Community Standards”.

Photo: 123rf.com

During today’s prime minister’s questions Theresa May spoke in support of the decision to permanently delete the accounts of ‘Britain First’ and its leaders: “There is absolutely no place in our society for hate crime or racism no matter what form it takes.”

The PM has been calling on social media companies to take more responsibility for content posted on their sites. In a speech to business leaders back in January, May called on shareholders to put pressure on sites like Facebook and Twitter to locate and delete extremist content. “I am pleased to say the home secretary has been working with these companies to ensure they do more, and do act more clearly, in taking down material that is of an extremist nature”.

A mirror page for ‘Britain First’ however has already been created on Facebook and its first post reads: “Britain First are unable to get an official Facebook Page, due to Facebook banning the account and the leaders. Please sign the petition to free leaders Paul and Jayda, also please donate what you can to support their movement!”.

Some criticism has been levelled at Facebook following their decision to remove the pages. Katie Hopkins, and ex LBC radio host tweeted today that Facebook has become “the arbiter of opinion”. Replies to her tweet share this sentiment. One such reply, from a user named Peter Hayes, states “The good thing is that Facebook/ Twitter/ YouTube bias is being exposed. Some of us knew already but this is now being shown to the masses”.

Photo:Panithan Fakseemuang

Mark Collett, a “British political activist and the author of The Fall of Western Man” also took to Twitter to condemn the action. “Britain First have just been banned from Facebook. They had over 2 million likes – more than any other political party in the UK. Free speech is being throttled by politically correct corporations.”

Again, some commenters on the post echo Collet’s thoughts. One commenter replied, “My sympathies. Politically correct regimes are some of the very worst things on Earth”. Another stated “My hate for PC culture intensifies”.

The ‘debate around free speech’ in the UK also hit the headlines last year when Conservative MP Jo Johnson told universities to end ‘no platforming’ or they could face fines. This came after it was claimed students had tried to ban Peter Tatchell and Germaine Greer from speaking at their student unions. The proposed no-platforming was based on their views of transgender issues. This approach somewhat contradicts the words of Theresa May in parliament today.

Facebook maintains that their site is a place where people can “express themselves freely and share openly with friends and family”. However, they also acknowledge that, “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”.

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