Britain First shared posts “designed to incite animosity and hatred against minority groups,” Facebook says. So they’re out.
Facebook has permanently suspended the account for a far-right political group called Britain First — the same far-right group that shared anti-Islam videos that President Trump retweeted late last year.
That alone makes it interesting that Facebook finally banned Britain First.
But it’s also interesting that it took Facebook so long. Twitter suspended the Britain First account and the account of one of the group’s leaders back in December. Facebook is just doing it now after giving the group a “written final warning” that it was violating the service’s user guidelines.
“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,” Facebook wrote in a blog post Wednesday.
Some of the violating content included a photo of the group’s leaders with the caption “Islamaphobic and Proud,” and another post that compared Muslim immigrants with animals, a Facebook spokesperson confirmed.
The decision comes at a time when Facebook is struggling with how to deal with groups like Britain First. Facebook doesn’t like to decide what kind of rhetoric is appropriate or inappropriate for fear of encroaching on its users’ free speech rights. It has even started to ask users to rate the “trustworthiness” of news organizations in an effort to weed out those that may be spreading so-called fake news.
That trepidation, though, has led to the rise misinformation on the service, and in some instances like Britain First, the spreading of hateful rhetoric or opinions. Twitter is dealing with the same dilemma, and now both companies are under pressure from users and lawmakers to clean up their services, especially as the 2018 midterm elections loom closer.
It’s worth noting that Facebook announced Britain First’s suspension publicly. The account is high profile, especially given the Trump connection, but Facebook suspends thousands of accounts and users daily. It rarely, if ever, announces those suspensions. Clearly the company wanted everyone to know that it was taking a stand here.