Facebook 'reviewing' Britain First page after Twitter suspends far-right group’s accounts

Facebook is "reviewing" Britain First’s page in the wake of other social media networks such as Twitter and YouTube taking action against the far-right group.

Simon Milner, Facebook’s Policy Director, told MPs on Tuesday the company looking at Britain First’s activities on its network, but also warned the company was “very cautious about political speech”.

In recent years Britain First has grown to become the largest UK political party on Facebook, with just under two million likes on its page.

The party’s social media activities have come under scrutiny after US President Donald Trump retweeted three anti-Islamic videos shared by the party's deputy leader, Jayda Fransen, last month.

The move inflamed diplomatic tensions between the US and UK as Theresa May said Mr Trump was "wrong" to share the videos.

Yesterday Twitter suspended Britain First's account as well as those of Ms Fransen and the party's leader, Paul Golding.

YouTube has also taken action against Britain First in recent weeks, by placing restrictions on its videos.

Meanwhile Britain First’s page on Facebook, as well as those of Ms Fransen and Mr Golding - which have a combined audience of almost 2.4 million people - remain public and verified at the time of publication.

Today Mr Milner faced questioning from MPs over Facebook’s approach to Britain First as he appeared before the Home Affairs Select Committee. 

Labour MP Yvette Cooper asked if Facebook had not taken action against the party and another far-right organisation, the English Defence League, because it had “lower standards” than Twitter.

Mr Milner responded that Britain First had until recently been registered with the Electoral Commission and thus “deemed legitimate” by UK authorities.

He added: “However there are clearly issues with their page on Facebook, there have been a number pieces of content taken down.

“We are obviously reviewing it, but we are very, very cautious about political speech. Very cautious about it”.

Britain First was founded in 2009 by former members of the British National Party and has since garnered a massive audience on Facebook, which is vastly disproportionate to its negligible electoral impact.

The Telegraph has reported on how the group has used populist causes such as support for pensioners and military veterans to reach millions on Facebook.

At the same time it also publishes scores of unverified violent videos purporting to show crimes committed by immigrants or Muslims. Among the videos the page still had up today was one up claiming to show an attempted rape of a woman by an “African migrant”.

The page’s enormous following dwarfs that of the UK's mainstream political parties on Facebook as Labour has just over a one million likes and the Conservatives have 650,000.

Twitter suspended the Britain First accounts on its site, which had around 140,000 followers combined, after introducing new rules around hate speech.

It took the measure after deeming the accounts had breach its regulations on “organizations that use or promote violence against civilians”.

YouTube also confirmed to The Telegraph that in recent weeks it had placed restrictions on Britain First’s page, putting its videos behind a warning that viewers must click through before watching.

The warning reads: “The following content has been identified by the YouTube community as inappropriate or offensive to some audiences.”

The restrictions also mean key YouTube features are disabled on Britain First’s videos including comments, likes and suggested videos. The party’s content will now not feature in YouTube’s ‘recommended’ section as a result.

YouTube places such restrictions on pages that contain “controversial religious or supremacist content”, even if they have not directly violated the site’s policies.