Facebook has deleted the pages of the right-wing Islamophobic group Britain First and its leaders.
The social media company said the group had repeatedly violated its community standards.
Earlier this month, Britain First’s leader and deputy leader, Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen, were jailed after being found guilty of religiously aggravated harassment.
More than two million people had liked the group’s Facebook page. The pages of Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen also had large followings.
The group will not be allowed to set up a replacement page.
It is understood the offending posts included:
- A photo of the group’s leaders with the caption “Islamophobic and Proud”
- A caption comparing Muslim immigrants with animals
- Multiple videos posted deliberately to incite hateful comments against Muslims
In a statement Facebook said: “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.
“There are times though when legitimate political speech crosses the line and becomes hate speech designed to stir up hatred against groups in our society… 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. 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.
“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.
“As a result, in accordance with our policies, we have now removed the official Britain First Facebook Page and the Pages of the two leaders with immediate effect. We do not do this lightly, but they have repeatedly posted content designed to incite animosity and hatred against minority groups, which disqualifies the Pages from our service.”
Prime Minister Theresa May told the House of Commons that she welcomed the move and hoped other tech companies would follow.
London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan has also issued a statement. “Britain First is a vile and hate-fuelled group,” he said. “Their sick intentions to incite hatred within our society via social media are reprehensible, and Facebook’s decision to remove their content is welcome.”