Facebook and Twitter fail to remove misleading Britain First videos

Facebook and Twitter have failed to take down a number of misleading videos posted by nationalist group Britain First despite them having received hundreds of thousands of views, the Press Association has found.

Since April 19 of this year, the group has posted at least 10 videos which contain scenes substantially different to those described in comments by the group. These videos have been shared almost 7,000 times altogether.

Videos posted by the group often target minority groups, and PA analysis found they consistently posted false claims about the circumstances being shown - including untrue claims that Muslims and migrants had attacked women and police.

The footage is either posted directly to Facebook and Twitter, or embedded in one of the party's websites, which are laden with adverts, and then linked to by their social media accounts.

Their verified Facebook page has over 1.8 million likes, which is more than the Conservative, Labour and the Lib Dem parties have combined.

Their Twitter following, however, is far smaller: their unverified @BritainFirstHQ account has just short of 13,000 followers, though leader Paul Golding has 28,000 followers and his deputy Jayda Fransen has 29,000.

Despite social networks announcing high profile measures to tackle "fake news" in recent months, the content remained on both platforms days after it was alerted to them by PA.

Twitter said it does not comment on individual accounts for "privacy and security reasons".

Facebook said it is investigating the posts and that it understands "that misleading information can be harmful to our community and we want to do our part to address it".

Britain First did not respond to the Press Association's request for comment.

A string of misleading videos

:: On May 4, the group posted a grainy video captioned: "Brave kid saves young girl from Isis! Amazing". It is actually a widely debunked hoax made in 2014 by Norwegian director with actors in Malta. The video has 172,000 views on Britain First's Facebook page.

This and the other misleading videos remain on the platform, despite being brought to Facebook's attention by the Press Association.


:: Britain First claims another blurry video, a link which was posted on April 22, shows Muslims attacking and abducting a young woman.

The Press Association found that it actually shows footage of a suspected drug dealer being arrested by police in France back in 2015.

Deputy leader Jayda Fransen also posted a link to the video on Twitter.

:: Another popular video on Facebook was claimed to show a "huge crowd of migrant Muslims" attacking German police, but actually shows an anti-fascist demonstration from 2011. The video was reshared by Britain First's followers more than 2,500 times and remains on the platform with 142,000 views.


:: In another video viewed 104,000 times on Facebook, captioned "Poor woman assaulted by migrants in Austria!", the CCTV footage can be traced back to an attack in the Czech Republic last year. Media reports from the country make no mention of the attackers being migrants.


:: Another post is entitled "Muslim migrants in Australia thought they are above the law!" - with a link to a YouTube video shared hundreds of times by followers of the group's Facebook page.

Though the man featured in the video appears to lash out at police, when contacted he told the Press Association he was actually born in Australia.


:: A video posted on Twitter by Britain First leader Paul Golding was alleged to show migrants in Europe attacking a woman - the footage was actually of a mugging carried out by children on a woman in Brazil.


:: Videos "encourage people to suspend their disbelief"

Robert Freeman, a media development consultant and associate lecturer at Goldsmiths, says fake videos work for pages like Britain First because people are more likely to suspend their disbelief when watching footage, rather than reading news.

"Political activists who doctor real videos or make up their own are joining the realism of TV news with the emotion of drama," he said.

"People tend to naturally trust what they are told, (early training from watching the news) so may not initially notice when a real video is put in a different context," he said.