The Speaker
Friday, 14 June 2024 – 10:47

Tommy Robinson’s social media ban – is it justified?

Tommy Robinson has been reported to be breaching hate speech rules which has led him to the ban on major social media networks.

Over the months far-right activist Tommy Robinson, also known as Stephen Yaxley-Lennon has faced a series of controversial moments. From being jailed for compromising two court cases as a contempt of court law – to now being banned from major social media networks, notably Facebook of which he uses as a platform to communicate to his fans, for ‘organised hate’.

From breaching the rules of Facebook and Instagram through the postings of hate speech, Facebook has released a statement explaining that he “has repeatedly broken these standards, posting material that uses dehumanizing language and calls for violence targeted at Muslims. He has also behaved in ways that violate our policies around organized hate”                                       

This statement came after a series of warnings from the social media platforms saying that if he doesn’t comply with their policies, his account will be shut down. It was after a final warning over posts about Muslims being ‘’filthy scumbags’’ and initiating his followers to ‘make war’ on them, which called for the last straw for Facebook.

Robinson is not free from controversy as his website also was deleted in December last year and he has been removed from publishing deals and his book was removed from Amazon and other businesses as a result of his extreme political positions and speeches.

Prior to these bans, Robison also had 4,000 supporters to protest against the BBC who had an upcoming Panorama episode investigating him. The documentary called ‘’Panadrama’’ worked with a leftist establishment called ‘’Hope not Hate’’ to which he condemned was an act to bring him down. This led him into a clash with BBC British Journalist, John Sweeney of which he released recorded footage of him saying his political hero is the former head of the IRA, along with other remarks.

Does more need to be done about extreme politics on social media?

Limiting any form of speech will always lend itself to contention. This is exacerbated even more when corporate censorship from major social media platforms collectively come together such as Twitter, Youtube, Facebook and many more get involved.

However, Robinson isn’t the only account of this form of silencing. Near the time Robinson was banned, some UKIP members have also had their Facebook accounts took down following the release of his ‘Panodrama’ documentary.

Robinson’s statement follows; ‘’Where is the 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”

However, some MP’s and Tom Watson, the Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport condemn the ban being far too late considering the history of Robinson’s controversial events.

Should more be done about extreme politics? Should hate speech be conflated with free speech? One side of the argument says Facebook and other tech giants should not get mixed in with the political and bow to the pressures of governments to censor people. Others say it is not civilised to utter harmful speeches that could lead to the risk of precarious consequences. But this leads to the question – Who regulates hate speech? It is more than the state’s job now to censor these things. This means there’s more criteria subjected to an organisation that is deemed as hate speech. This also asks the question – Who then defines hate? Some may argue it is those that define it are those people you would want least to define it.


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