Political views can and should be expressed without hate, says Facebook.
Facebook has banned far-right group Britain First and its leaders from the social network.
The move is seen as an important step in clamping down on anti-Islam content and a gospel of hate being preached by the far-right.
The social network has also banned the pages of two of Britain First’s leaders, Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen.
‘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’
“People come to Facebook to express themselves freely and share openly with friends and family; sometimes this can include their political views,” Facebook said in a statement.
“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.”
Right way to handle the far-right
At the time of the Facebook ban, Britain First’s Facebook page had more than 2m likes.
Facebook said the move was about taking action against hate speech and that its own community standards clearly state that such speech is not acceptable.
“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,” the company said.
Police contain a Britain First/English Defence League rally. Image: John Gomez/Shutterstock