Tommy Deleted, Wave Of 'Martyr' Hate Speech Will Need Tackling Now

There cannot be a sensible person in adland -- no, make that the UK -- who won't be rejoicing the decision from Facebook to ban Tommy Robinson.

The site has come in for constant criticism for not doing enough to police hate speech as well as for not acting quickly enough on harmful content such as self-harm videos, which are dangerous for the vulnerable. In fact, a government report yesterday linked the internet with one in four teen suicides, with the report author claiming the tech giants do not appear unduly bothered by the harm their inaction could be causing.

But yesterday, the right side won. Let's be very clear. Tommy Robinson -- or Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, to give him his real name -- stands accused of repeated hate speech.

Anyone with half a brain would know this is true, but it took Facebook some time to investigate his posts and find the former English Defence League founder guilty of "organised hate."

Now he is banned from Facebook and Instagram and the BBC has been told he won't be allowed back on.

The Facebook news comes just a couple of days after he clearly tried to intimidate the corporation by organising a protest outside its Salford headquarters with a large screen showing his film "Panodrama." The National Union of Journalists denounced the demonstration as nothing more than an attempt to intimidate BBC journalists. 

I'm not going to repeat the vile abuse that pours out of Tommy Robinson's posts. You can read some of it on the BBC story about his removal from Facebook and Instagram here.

Remember, quite apart from contempt of court hearings, this is the guy who received a prison sentence for entering the US on a false passport to get around a previous drugs conviction. It's also the same guy who pleaded guilty to fraud charges. He has also been convicted of football hooliganism and assault. 

Unfortunately, he has a strong following in social media. I got unwittingly involved in a Facebook row when his supporters tried to post racist slurs on a local community site. It had nothing to do with our area, but was the usual stuff about people from another background getting away with murder and your kids will be next. It's a common theme.

Interestingly, I noticed the people who were slating me for rebutting their claims and asking for a moderator to remove their comments were all unemployed or low-skilled workers. They all made a point of featuring biographies that supported Tommy Robinson and made a habit of spreading his propaganda.

We all want free speech -- but not at the cost of peaceful debate. That is why Facebook will need to do more. It cannot do anything about Tommy being seen as a martyr now. Supporters will harp on about him being censored by the media he loves to criticise. That is inevitable and ultimately, he can blog on the right-wing media now, where he belongs -- far away from mainstream acceptability. 

No -- what Facebook will need to do now is tackle the endless tirade of memes and posters his supporters will put up and will now put up with greater frequency, given the deletion of his accounts. 

There will be a wave of angry posts, which will inevitably include hate speech and calls to violence. Facebook deserves a pat on the back for finally deleting Tommy's accounts, but I fear the work has just begun on dealing with the hate speech his Islamophobic machine spews out.

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