Facebook must end far right’s fundraising: British leader

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London, Dec 9 (IANS) Facebook CEO must put an end to far-right activists’ fundraising on the social networking platform, said British Labour leader Tom Watson, while criticising Mark Zuckerberg for having a “contempt for social responsibility”, the media reported.

According to a Guardian report, Tommy Robinson, a British far-right activist with more than 1 million followers on Facebook, has been receiving financial, political and moral support from a hidden global network of US thinktanks, right-wing Australians and Russian trolls.

Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds through online donations, some via the social network.

Although Facebook has disabled Robinson’s access to the donate tool, meant to be reserved for charities alone, but supporters visiting Robinson’s Facebook profile continued to be directed towards his website where they could make donations through a form, the British daily reported on Saturday.

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A Facebook spokesperson confirmed the action.

“We have removed the “Donate Now” button from this page. This function is only available for pages that list themselves as a “charitable organisation” and allows them to link to an external webpage of their choice. As this page is for a person we have now removed this,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying.

Facebook is Robinson’s main social network after Twitter suspended him for claiming “Islam promotes killing people” in March, the report claimed.

In a blog post, Watson wrote: “Today I call on him to give a full explanation of how this dire breach of Facebook regulation occurred, pledge that it will never happen again, and, as an apology, make a match-fund donation to Hope Not Hate (a UK-based advocacy group).

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Facebook should be ashamed that it had enabled Robinson’s efforts to “divide communities and stoke up hate”, said Matthew McGregor, Hope Not Hate’s campaigns director.

“Facebook has continually failed to deal with the fact that their platform is vulnerable to exploitation by extremists, until after it is too late. Warm words after the damage is done don’t help reverse the damage caused,” he added.

In recent years, Facebook has suffered sustained criticism over its handling of a series of crises, including interference during the US presidential election 2016 and the Brexit vote, allowing dissemination of hate speech and a data breach affecting millions of users.

–IANS

rt/in

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