Twitter has announced that it’s suspended three accounts belonging to members of the far right group Britain First. Among the suspended users is Jayda Fransen, whose post was retweeted by President Trump, causing outrage from the UK government that strained relations between them and the US. Britain Firsts main account @BritainFirstHQ has also been suspended, along with the account of the groups leader Paul Golding. Britain First has yet to comment on the suspensions of their accounts.
When asked the reason for the suspensions, Twitter stated that it couldn’t comment on individual cases due to privacy and security concerns; however the company has confirmed on its blog that it’s committed to blocking “hateful and abusive content”. It has also emphasised that it has a strict policy that prohibits accounts that “affiliate with organizations that use or promote violence against civilians to further their causes” or “glorifies violence or the perpetrators of a violent act.”
Britain First describes itself as “a patriotic resistance and ‘frontline’ for our long suffering people that will restore Christianity as the bedrock of national life and put British workers first.” However, they have no representatives in British politics and have been officially deregistered by the Electoral Commission. Jayda Fransen has previously been found guilty in court of religiously aggravated harassment for verbally abusing a Muslim woman.
Britain First is also well known for sharing videos designed to be divisive and provocative, and its leaders Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen are has very strong far right views. The videos posted by the group that were retweeted by Trump allegedly showed Muslims assaulting people and smashing a statue of the Virgin Mary. Another video claimed to show a “Muslim migrant” in the Netherlands attacking a boy, however the attorney who handled the case said that the suspect was born and raised in the country. A spokesperson declined to comment on the religion of the defendant for privacy reasons.
Sarah Sanders, the press secretary for the White House has defended Trumps retweets, claiming that they were only shared in order to put forward his opinions on border security and immigration and debate the issue. However, the sharing of the videos caused outrage in the UK and anger from the government towards Trump. A spokesperson for UK Prime Minister Theresa May commented that “Britain First seeks to divide communities through their use of hateful narratives which peddle lies and stoke tensions” and that Trump was wrong to share the videos.
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