YouTube has cracked down on UK right-wing activist Tommy Robinson by slapping his account with increased restrictions, with his detractors stating that he should face a complete ban from social media.
YouTube, a Google-owned video sharing platform, announced on Tuesday that it would implement new restrictions on Mr. Robinson's account such as turning off comments and likes for his popular video channel.
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The new regulations were in response to users flagging Mr. Robinson's videos as potential hate speech and extremism, which violates YouTube's policies. "After consulting with third-party experts, we are applying a tougher treatment to Tommy Robinson's channel in keeping with our policies on borderline content," the spokeswoman said, adding that Mr. Robinson's content was not illegal.
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Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have also permanently banned the activist's accounts in February for violating their site policies on hate speech, stating that he had called for "violence against individuals based on protected characteristics," as well as "supporting or appearing with organised hate groups." Facebook also issued a final written warning against Robinson, stating that he would be removed from the social media platform if he continued to violate its hate speech policies.
Tommy Robinson Hits Back at Social Media Giants
Following the ban, Robinson told the Press Association in late February that his content was in response to his "expose documentary called Panadrama" which aimed to "exposed the establishment working with Hope not Hate, working along with the media, in order to bring me down and destroy me". "Now they have realised that that has not worked, they're working with the tech giants to remove us completely," he said. "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."
Tommy Robinson also stated in a YouTube speech in February that his free-speech campaign would not be stopped despite growing pressure from social media companies.
“You thought deleting us from Twitter would stop us – it didn’t,” he said. “You thought removing our PayPal would stop us. It affected us, they stopped our donations by 70 per cent. Did it stop us? No it didn’t. If you think deleting us from Facebook or Instagram will stop us… no it won’t.”
Mr. Robinson also appealed to US president Donald Trump and urged organising a rally against social media companies with other right-wing personalities. “Donald Trump – if you don’t step in now, the platforms and the voices that share the truth of what they are doing are being removed across the world," he added. "People have to speak now.”
Robinson, an anti-immigration activist and former co-founder of the movement English Defence League, has regularly been making headlines since May, 2018 when he was detained and then was sentenced to prison for his livestreaming outside of a court during a headline-grabbing grooming gang scandal.
The former leader of the right-wing street protest movement English Defence League was already on a suspended sentence for contempt of court for filming a video in Canterbury Crown Court in May 2017 during the trial of four suspected rapists. Such a turn of events caused the judge to activate a three-month sentence for the previous offence and add 10 months for the new one.
After he was released on bail in November 2018, PayPal banned his account and froze the donations he had received over accusations of him inciting hatred and promoting Islamophobia.
Robinson, in turn, lambasted PayPal’s decision as “fascism”, saying that it was an attempt to silence him and prevent him from reporting stories that “media don’t want to cover”.