A recent report from The Guardian reveals that Facebook has started to permanently ban a number of U.K. far-right groups and leaders, which went into effect on Thursday. Organizations which have been banned include the British National Party (BNP), Britain First, and the English Defense League (EDL), which was co-founded by right-wing activist Tommy Robinson.
The article states that alongside organizations that promote “hate speech,” content posted online which shows support for such groups will also be removed by the site.
Robinson – who’s real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon – was banned by Facebook in February in a series of attempts by the social networking site to crack down on “hate organizations.” In March, the site reversed a policy that allowed “white nationalist” groups on the site. The policy initially stated that they could post content provided it didn’t promote “white supremacy.”
The company said that individuals and groups who “spread hate or attack or call for the exclusion of others on the basis of who they are, have no place on Facebook,” which will fall under their “dangerous individuals and organizations” policy.
“Our work against organized hate is ongoing and we will continue to review individuals, organizations, pages, groups and content against our community standards.”
According to the BBC, the ban also includes Knights Templar International – including its promoter, Jim Dowson – as well as Jack Renshaw, a neo-Nazi who planned to murder a politician.
Chair of the Home Affairs Select committee, M.P. Yvette Cooper, said that the ban was “long overdue,” and that social media sites had been complicit in the past in “facilitating extremist and hateful content online.” Cooper also said that such measures could be strengthened by independent regulation with penalties implemented to punish sites that weren’t complying.
This ban comes just a week after the government announced it was attempting to make the U.K. the “safest place to go” online by penalizing such sites as Facebook for not cracking down on harmful content, such as child abuse or cyberbullying.
These latest bans may also be a response to concerns that Facebook was seeing a rise in far-right groups back in 2016, in which organizations such as Britain First began pushing anti-Islam content. In a statement to reporters, Facebook said that the site was used by supporters of “many political persuasions to campaign for issues they feel passionately about.”
Knights Templar said that they are “horrified” by the news that they will be banned from the site, and it may begin exploring legal options.