Facebook has taken the drastic step of issuing Tommy Robinson with a permanent ban across its social network and Instagram.
The tech giant said it would remove Robinson’s page for behaving “in ways that violate our policies around organised hate”.
– Who is Tommy Robinson?
Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, describes himself as a “journalist, activist and public figure fighting for the forgotten people of the UK”.
The 36-year-old previously served as leader of the far-right English Defence League, before turning to his own activist movement, mainly posting videos online targeting Islam and the “establishment”.
– Why has Tommy Robinson been banned on Facebook and Instagram?
Facebook said that it decided to ban Robinson for repeatedly breaking standards, and “posting material that uses dehumanising language and calls for violence targeted at Muslims”.
“He has also behaved in ways that violate our policies around organised 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 organisations that attack others on the basis of who they are have no place on Facebook or Instagram.”
– How has Tommy Robinson responded to his ban?
Speaking to the Press Association, Robinson said he had not heard of his ban from Facebook, claiming the “corrupt media and the establishment” were trying “to silence any opposition to their globalist plans”.
“This is in response to my expose documentary called Panadrama, which exposed the establishment working with Hope not Hate, working along with the media, in order to bring me down and destroy me.
“Now they have realised that that has not worked, they’re working with the tech giants to remove us completely – where is free speech? I’ve breached no laws of Facebook, everyone is going to know that I’ve breached no rules, what I’ve done is shown people the truth and that is what they are removing, the truth. People will still find me.
“People will be astonished by this censorship, especially witnessing it in response to my expose documentary.”
– Why didn’t Facebook ban Tommy Robinson sooner?
Social networks have long-struggled to grapple with the issue of balancing freedom of speech against hate speech and other potentially harmful content.
Facebook and others have ramped up efforts to remove such material, employing moderators and fact-checkers to verify content.
“We want Facebook to be a place where you can express yourself freely and share openly with friends and family,” Facebook said.
“At the same time, when people come to Facebook we always want them to feel welcome and safe.”
– Is Tommy Robinson banned on other platforms?
Robinson was suspended from Twitter in March 2018, and then PayPal in November, making it harder for supporters to send donations.
YouTube – where Robinson has videos with as many as two million views – also strained Robinson’s funding, by suspending adverts on his account. However, the video sharing platform has not banned his channel.
– What are the arguments for Tommy Robinson being banned?
Hate speech, largely directed at Muslims, is the main argument for banning Robinson.
Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, said he recently held meetings with Facebook representatives in London to discuss the concern of the British Muslim community about Robinson’s presence on social media.
“Tommy Robinson has spent years directing hatred towards Muslims, targeting innocent Muslims with his inflammatory speeches and videos on social media,” he said.
“We know the Finsbury Park Mosque terrorist Darren Osborne was inspired by Tommy’s videos and his targeting of one community. Therefore, we know what affect these videos and posts have on our community.”
– What are the arguments against Tommy Robinson being banned?
Supporters of Robinson claim that banning him is a breach of free speech.
Others on social media believe it is no coincidence that he was banned less than 24 hours after he posted an expose on fake news.
– Has anyone else been banned?
Individuals deemed to be using their accounts in an offensive way are routinely banned on social networks, but action against controversial names such as Robinson’s can take longer.
Alex Jones, a conspiracy theorist in the US who runs the InfoWars site, has suffered a similar fate to Robinson online, gradually losing access to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and app stores.