Facebook has taken down the pages of "Britain First", a far-right group that entered the headlines last year when President Trump retweeted its videos, and those of its leaders as the company cracks down on posts that purportedly violate its rules about hate speech.
Per Bloomberg, Britain First’s Facebook page, and the pages of its leaders Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen, were taken down after they repeatedly posted content that was deemed to be "hate speech."
The Britain First page had more than two million likes. Facebook didn't confirm what posts were specifically responsible for the ban, but did say the group would be barred from creating a new page.
"We do not do this lightly," said Facebook, "but they have repeatedly posted content designed to incite animosity and hatred against minority groups, which disqualifies the Pages from our service."
"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," the company added. “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.” The group will also not be allowed to set up any further pages in future.
Back in December, President Trump bristled at this characterization of Britain First as a "hate" group when he elicited condemnations from UK Prime Minister Theresa May and other world leaders after he retweeted videos initially tweeted by Britain First. One video showed a Muslim migrant attacking a Dutch man; another showed a man smashing a statue of the Virgin Mary. A third showed a man being pushed from the top of a building in Alexandria.
Trump even canceled what was supposed to be an informal visit to the UK over the backlash.
As the Guardian reported, Britain First was deregistered as a political party in November 2017.
And last week, Fransen and Golding (pictured above) were jailed for a series of hate crimes against Muslims. The pair, who received 36 weeks’ and 18 weeks’ imprisonment, were arrested in May 2017 as part of an investigation into the distribution of leaflets and online videos posted during a trial at Canterbury crown court in the same month.
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:
"Britain First is a vile and hate-fuelled group whose sole purpose is to sow division. Their sick intentions to incite hatred within our society via social media are reprehensible, and Facebook’s decision to remove their content is welcome."
Despite all the backlash, a report released earlier this month by Hope Not Hate, an "anti-hate" group, showed that BF had the "second most liked Facebook page in the politics and society category in the UK – after the royal family."
Britain First has nearly twice as many as Facebook likes as Labour - the mainstream party with the most Facebook likes. However, the group's candidates have always performed poorly in elections.