Tommy Robinson banned from Facebook and Instagram
Far-right founder of English Defence League repeatedly breached hate speech rules
Robinson, the far-right founder of the English Defence League, has been permanently banned from Facebook and Instagram for repeatedly breaking the sites’ policies on hate speech, Facebook said.
The company said Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, broke rules that ban public calls for violence against people based on protected characteristics; rules that ban supporting or appearing with organised hate groups; and policies that prevent people from using the site to bully others.
The ban comes a month after Facebook issued a final written warning against Robinson, warning him that if he continued to break the company’s hate speech policies he would be removed from its platform permanently.
That warning had been issued for breaches that included a post calling on people to terrorise and behead those who follow the Qur’an; a post calling on people to “make war” on Muslims; and multiple videos showing people being bullied.
Following that warning, Robinson did break Facebook’s policies again, it says, through:
- Organising and participating in events with recognised hate figures or groups, such as Proud Boys and Gavin McInnes
- Public praise or support for these hate figures and groups
- Public remarks that include hate speech targeted at a specific group in society
- Public calls for violence against people based on issues such as race, ethnicity or national origin.
Under the ban, Robinson’s official Facebook page and Instagram profile will be deleted, as well as any future presence on the site preemptively barred. It will also place Robinson in the same category as other banned personalities such as McInnes, the Proud Boys founder, and the Infowars founder, Alex Jones, meaning that others who allow him access to the site through their own pages or profiles could face disciplinary action themselves.
The Full statement from Facebook reads:
Removing Tommy Robinson’s Page and Profile for Violating Our Community Standards
One of the biggest questions we face is around what we allow on Facebook – and we spend a lot of time trying to get this right. This is hard and critically important. We want Facebook to be a place where you can express yourself freely and share openly with friends and family. At the same time, when people come to Facebook we always want them to feel welcome and safe.
This is something we take incredibly seriously. So when ideas and opinions cross the line and amount to hate speech that may create an environment of intimidation and exclusion for certain groups in society – in some cases with potentially dangerous offline implications – we take action. Our public Community Standards 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. Our rules also make clear that individuals and organizations that are engaged in “organized hate” are not allowed on the platform, and that praise or support for these figures and groups is also banned. This is true regardless of the ideology they espouse.
Tommy Robinson’s Facebook Page has repeatedly broken these standards, posting material that uses dehumanizing language and calls for violence targeted at Muslims. He has also behaved in ways that violate our policies around organized hate. As a result, in accordance with our policies, we have removed Tommy Robinson’s official Facebook Page and Instagram profile. This is not a decision we take lightly, but individuals and organizations that attack others on the basis of who they are have no place on Facebook or Instagram.