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Facebook bans Britain First for inciting 'animosity and hatred' against minorities

The group raised shackles in England, especially after President Trump retweeted several of its anti-Islamist posts.
by Alyssa Newcomb /
Image: Britain First
Far-right group Britain First leader Paul Golding, center right, and deputy leader Jayda Fransen arrive at Folkestone Magistrates' Court in Kent on Jan. 29, 2018.Ben Stansall / AFP - Getty Images

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Facebook announced on Wednesday that it has banned the far-right political group Britain First for inciting hate against minority groups, four months after it was deregistered as a political party in the United Kingdom.

The move comes three months after Britain First leaders Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen were suspended from Twitter. The pair are currently serving jail time after being convicted last week of religiously aggravated harassment in the United Kingdom.

"We are an open platform for all ideas, and political speech goes to the heart of free expression," said Facebook in a statement. "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."

Facebook has long positioned itself as a global community where all political backgrounds are welcome to share and discuss issues. The company has shown a reluctance to censor anything that could be considered political speech; however, in the case of Britain First, it said "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."

When Twitter began enforcing its new policies on violence, abuse and hate speech in December, Britain First was suspended from the site. The movement responded by migrating to Gab, a social media website that bills itself as a platform for free speech, but has become a popular spot for right wing trolls.

Last week, Fransen was sentenced to 36 weeks in jail, while the group leader, Golding, received 18 weeks. The charges stem from an investigation into the distribution of leaflets and videos last year during a trial in which three Muslim men and a teenager were convicted of rape.

Britain First gained notoriety in the United States after President Donald Trump retweeted inflammatory anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant videos last November.

Fransen thanked Trump for sharing the videos with his "44 MILLION FOLLOWERS!"

"GOD BLESS YOU TRUMP! GOD BLESS AMERICA!" she tweeted.

Trump told British journalist Piers Morgan in January that he didn't know about the group when he retweeted the videos and wasn't endorsing them. He said he shared the videos, the veracity of which have been questioned, because he is “a big believer in fighting radical Islamic terror.”

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