Facebook and Instagram are banning British far-right activist Tommy Robinson for posting hate speech.
Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, is being removed from both platforms because he posted anti-Muslim content and engaged in activity offline supporting hate figures and groups, Facebook said in a statement.
“Tommy Robinson’s Facebook Page has repeatedly broken these standards, posting material that uses dehumanizing language and calls for violence targeted at Muslims,” Facebook said.
“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 and Instagram.”
It’s the latest example of social media companies stepping up efforts to police content on their platforms after years of criticism that they were not doing enough to stop hate speech. In the coming weeks, the UK government is due to publish proposals for regulating social media to reduce what it calls “online harms” and the spread of disinformation.
Facebook (FB) said Robinson had violated its policies with posts calling Muslims “filthy scum bags” and calling on people to “make war” on Muslims, as well as multiple videos showing people being bullied.
Robinson told CNN Business the ban was “clear evidence of the tech giants working alongside the establishment in order to silence criticism.” He said it was a direct response to a documentary he made about the BBC, which claimed the broadcaster was working with “far-left” activists to take him “down” in an upcoming episode of its Panorama series.
Around 4,000 Robinson supporters protested outside BBC offices at the weekend. The BBC said the episode followed its “strict editorial guidelines.”
Robinson told CNN Business Facebook’s decision amounted to censorship and would be counterproductive.
“The more you try to censor me the more people will want to hear from us,” he said.
His official Facebook page had more than 1 million followers and likes.
Robinson was given a final written warning on January 24. Since then, Facebook said it became aware of more unacceptable activity on its platforms, as well as hate speech and calls for violence by Robinson in public.
Robinson, 35, has become a figurehead for the far-right in Britain, attracting thousands of followers online and at protests.
Last year he was jailed for 13 months for contempt of court for live-streaming videos to Facebook from outside a trial.
Some prominent right-wing figures in the United States, including President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon, have expressed support for him.
He has previously been convicted of assault, drug and public order offenses, mortgage fraud and using someone else’s passport to travel to the United States.
In November, Robinson was appointed an adviser to the UK Independence Party, which led to several UKIP members quitting in protest.