Facebook shuts down white supremacist Richard Spencer's pages

World

Facebook has taken down two pages associated with white supremacist Richard Spencer.

The two pages on the social media site belonged to Spencer’s National Policy Institute and his website altright.com – both of which are listed on the far-right leader’s Twitter bio.

Links to both pages – which had less than 15,000 followers in total – now show error messages.

Facebook told Buzzfeed News on Friday the pages were shut down and said the platform does not allow hate groups on their site.

The move comes after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before Congress earlier this week about his firm’s privacy policies and the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal. The tech titan said Facebook does not support hate groups using their platform.

“We do not allow hate groups on Facebook, overall. So if there’s a group that their primary purpose, or a large part of what they do, is spreading hate, we will ban them from the platform overall,” Mr Zuckerberg said.

He also said Facebook had not done enough to ban hate speech, using his opening statement to say: “It is clear now that we didn’t do enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm as well. That goes for fake news, for foreign interference and hate speech.”

The Twitter profile belonging to Mr Spencer – who has over 80,000 followers on the site – remains active. Nevertheless, he has been subject to clampdowns in the past and in 2016 Twitter took down the National Policy Institute’s Twitter page as well as his.

Mr Spencer’s account was later reinstated but he had his blue verification tick revoked in 2017 due to Twitter launching a crackdown on far-right figures.

The provocateur, who is credited with coining the term “alt-right”, helped organise the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville last summer which saw neo-Nazis, KKK members and “alt-right” supporters descend on the ordinarily quiet university town. 

Tensions between fascists and counter-protestors turned deadly after a 20-year-old man, who officials say had Nazi sympathies, deliberately ploughed his car into the crowd of peaceful anti-fascist demonstrators and killed a female civil rights activist.

Mr Spencer’s arrival on university campuses for talks in the months that followed the Charlottesville violence attracted a slew of protests and cancellations. In Florida, governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency ahead of a planned speech at the University of Florida. 

Protesters yelled “Go home Spencer, go home,” “Say it loud, say it clear, Nazis are not welcome here” and “Go home, Nazis, go home” while armed guards kept a watch on the speech.

Mr Spencer, who had his gym membership revoked last May after a university professor accused him of being a neo-Nazi mid-workout, sparked outrage when he made a number of allusions to Nazi ideology during a speech at a conference in Washington in November 2016.

“Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory!” he declared, prompting audience members to leap to their feet in applause, with several appearing to make drawn-out Heil Hitler salutes.

The Independent contacted a representative of Facebook for comment.

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