Tommy Robinson, a one time mortgage fraudster who has morphed into a crucial linchpin in the global far right, has been permanently banned from both Facebook and Instagram.
The company announced the decision on Tuesday morning, explaining that Robinson had repeatedly engaged in “organized hate.”
“When ideas and opinions cross the line and amount to hate speech that may create an environment of intimidation and exclusion for certain groups in society… we take action,” Facebook said in a blog post. “Tommy Robinson’s Facebook Page has repeatedly broken these standards, posting material that uses dehumanizing language and calls for violence targeted at Muslims.”
Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, is a former football hooligan and former leader of the English Defense League (EDL). In recent years, has established a highly rewarding grift as an “activist” and “independent journalist” whose work mainly consists of fear-mongering about how Britain is being taken over by Islam.
Last November for instance, after a video surfaced of a 15-year-old Syrian refugee being horrifically bullied in northern England, Robinson claimed that the victim was actually part of ISIS and was attacking “English” schoolkids — using pictures stolen from a separate 2017 bullying incident in an attempt to prove his story.
According to the BBC, Facebook had warned Robinson last month about his rhetoric against Muslims, which included one post calling them “filthy scum bags,” another urging his followers to “make war” on them, as well for a call for his followers to harass those who followed the Quran.
Unsurprisingly, Robinson’s Islamophobia has gained support from the U.S. far right. In a July 2018 interview, former Brietbart chief and Trump adviser Steve Bannon called him the “backbone of [the] country.” Robinson was also invited by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) to speak at the Conservative Opportunity Society in Washington, D.C., last November — although he was denied a visa to do so.
When Robinson was arrested for contempt of court last May, the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., tweeted that the arrest was “reason #1776 for the original #brexit.” Robinson’s legal defense for that case was bankrolled by the Middle East Forum, a right-wing U.S. think tank.
Robinson’s rhetoric has also filtered down to far right extremists in the U.K. Last February, a court in Woolwich heard how Darren Osborne, who drove a van into a group of worshipers outside a London mosque in 2017, killing one and injuring nine, had become obsessed in the run-up the attack with the material Robinson was posting online.
This isn’t the first time tech companies have taken action against Robinson. In March last year, he was permanently banned from Twitter for violating the site’s rules on “hateful conduct.” In November 2018 he was also permanently banned from using the payment processing site PayPal.
Tom Watson, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, said this week that Robinson’s Facebook ban demonstrated the need for increased social media regulation.
“For far too long this violent thug’s hate-spewing, anti-Islamist tirades were given a platform by Facebook,” Watson tweeted. “The public interest demands an end to laissez-faire regulation, so we can create a place where reasonable debate can take place without trolls, extremists and racist thugs seeking to damage and undermine society.”