TikTok bans Britain First and Tommy Robinson over hate speech violations

TikTok bans Britain First and Tommy Robinson over hate speech violations
3 min read
25 April, 2020
The video app has permanently barred the far-right accounts, saying their promotion of 'hateful ideology' violates its terms and conditions.
Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, aka Tommy Robinson, has been banned from all major social networks [Getty]
The video sharing platform TikTok has permanently banned accounts belonging to British far-right figure activist Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, also known as Tommy Robinson, as well as the fascist political party Britain First.

In a statement published by Islamophobia watchdog Tell MAMA, the company said both accounts "had been subject to an ongoing investigation due to the nature of some of the content posted".

The content published by the accounts promoted "hateful ideology" on multiple occasions, violating the app's regulations, according to the statement.

A TikTok spokesperson said: "Keeping people on TikTok safe is a top priority and our Terms of Service and Community Guidelines clearly outline what is not acceptable on our platform."

"Content that seeks to promote hateful ideology has no place on TikTok and the accounts belonging to both Tommy Robinson and Britain First have been permanently removed for multiple violations of our Terms of Service and Community Guidelines," the statement added.

"We're continuously enhancing our efforts to ensure that individuals and organisations seeking to promote any form of hateful ideology cannot establish a sustainable presence on TikTok."

A recent investigation by Aljazeera had exposed the two accounts' activity on the app, and pressure had been building for TikTok to take action.

The investigation highlighted a video by Britain First in which the group's leader Paul Golding telling two Black men in Calais: "We don't want any more migrants coming to our country... don't come to England, we're full up, we're a small country. We want to look after our own people. With all these migrants coming to our country, you're making it difficult."

Yaxley-Lennon and Britain First appeared to have turned to TikTok after being barred from all other major social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat.

According to the Aljazeera investigation, his account was set up in March and had already garnered almost 22,000 followers. His bio read: "Banned from all western social media, lets give the Chinese a go".

In one of his posts, Yaxley-Lennon shared a clip from an ITV interview in which he holds up the Quran, saying: "This book is the reason we are in such a mess."

Tell MAMA said it "welcomes" the ban.

"All social media platforms have a duty to protect its users from hate speech, and ban those who breach its policies," it said in a statement.

TikTok, on which users share video clips no longer than 60 seconds, has experienced a sharp increase in activity during the coronavirus lockdowns.

The application, owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance, saw 65 million worldwide downloads in March, according to analytics site SensorTower.

In addition to the existing 800 million reported in January by DataReportal, the app is nearing a billion users.

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