YouTube faces mounting pressure to ban Tommy Robinson

YouTube is under increased pressure to follow Facebook in banning activist Tommy Robinson from its service, the last mainstream platform the former EDL leader is able to use.

On Tuesday, Facebook took the decision to permanently ban Mr Robinson across its social network and Instagram for posting “in ways that violate our policies around organised hate”, the company said.

The activist – whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon – is already banned on Twitter, leaving Google-owned YouTube as the last big online space that the 36-year-old is able to post on, where he has more than 300,000 subscribers to his channel.

“I believe YouTube should also ban Tommy Robinson from their platform,” said MP Damian Collins, chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

“His YouTube channel has hundreds of thousands of followers and includes films viewed by millions of people.

“Far-right groups are exploiting social media to spread their messages of hate, and the YouTube next up feature helps them by directing viewers to even more of this content once, as soon as, they start to engage with it.”

YouTube operates a hate speech policy which removes content promoting violence or hatred against individuals or groups based on attributes including religion, race, immigration status or nationality.

Facebook said the content Mr Robinson posted called for violence targeted at Muslims.

It is understood that the videos posted on his YouTube channel are different and do not currently breach its own hate speech rules.

YouTube also uses strikes, giving offending users a warning and removing the specific video, before going into a three-strike process that eventually leads to the channel being terminated if policies are repeatedly violated.

YouTube
YouTube (John Stillwell/PA)

“Following Facebook’s decision, Stephen Lennon (Tommy Robinson) is only able to spew his anti-Muslim hate on YouTube and Gab,” said Matthew McGregor, campaigns director of advocacy group Hope not Hate.

“Is YouTube really happy to be in that company? Lennon has shown time and again that he will use any platform he can to engage in hate speech, whipping his supporters up. It’s past time YouTube acted.”

A spokeswoman for Momentum, the grassroots movement supportive of Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party, said: “YouTube has dragged their feet for far too long, and they should follow Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by banning Tommy Robinson from the platform.”

Robinson’s supporters have rallied behind the activist on social media, saying his banning on Facebook and Instagram goes against the right to free speech.

Reacting to the move on Tuesday, Mr Robinson claimed the “corrupt media and the establishment” were trying “to silence any opposition to their globalist plans”.

“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,” he said.

In January, YouTube suspended adverts on Mr Robinson’s channel for posting material around controversial issues and sensitive events that breach the site’s advertising guidelines, effectively cutting off one of his revenue streams.

He is already banned on Twitter and PayPal.

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