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Sunderland MP welcomes Facebook ban on Britain First for spreading far-right hate speech

Bridget Phillipson at Prime Minister's Questions
Bridget Phillipson at Prime Minister's Questions
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A Wearside MP has welcomed Facebook’s move to ban far-right group Britain First.

But Bridget Phillipson urged the Government to offer more guidance to social media firms on tackling extremism.

There needs to be a clear role provided by Government to give guidance to social media companies of how they operate in our democracy

Bridget Phillipson

The Houghton and Sunderland South MP raised the issue at Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday within minutes of Facebook announcing it was removing the Britain First page and those of leader Paul Golding and deputy Jayda Fransen.

The social network said it had taken action after they repeatedly broke the site’s community standards on hate speech.

The pair were jailed earlier this month after being convicted of religiously-aggravated harassment in Kent last year.

Bridget Phillipson broke the news of the decision to the House and asked Theresa May: “Does the Prime Minister join me in welcoming that?

“But does she not also agree that there needs to be a clear role provided by Government to give guidance to social media companies of how they operate in our democracy?”

The Prime Minister replied: “I certainly welcome that announcement by Facebook and I am pleased to say that my Right Honourable friend the Home Secretary has been working with those companies to ensure that they do do more, that they do act more clearly and take down material that is of an extremist nature.

“But I am very happy to welcome that announcement that Facebook has made and I hope other companies will follow.”

Facebook said Golding and Fransen had continued to violate its rules despite final warnings: “Content posted on the Britain First Facebook page and the pages of party leaders Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen has repeatedly broken our Community Standards,” it said.

“We recently gave the administrators of the pages a written final warning, and they have continued to post content that violates our Community Standards. As a result, in accordance with our policies, we have now removed the official Britain First Facebook page and the pages of the two leaders with immediate effect.

“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 confirmed the violations content included an image of the group’s leaders with the caption ‘Islamophobic and Proud’ and multiple videos which it said had been posted deliberately to incite hateful comments against Muslims.