Labour asks Facebook to ban groups pushing antisemitic hate to its supporters

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Labour asks Facebook to ban groups pushing antisemitic hate to its supporters

Party petitions social media giant to take action against left-wing groups in extraordinary bid to stamp out anti-Jewish racism.

Screenshot of a group banned in December (Credit: Sussex Friends of Israel)
Screenshot of a group banned in December (Credit: Sussex Friends of Israel)

Labour has petitioned Facebook to take action against left-wing groups sympathetic to the party in an extraordinary bid to stamp out antisemitism, Jewish News understands.

Staff working in Labour’s governance and legal unit, which investigates disciplinary cases, are thought to have contacted Facebook last year to demand some 11 groups identified as containing antisemitic content be moderated or removed.

It is believed the officials alleged the groups’ administrators are pushing extreme antisemitic content towards some Labour-supporting Facebook users, including conspiracy theories about Jewish people, Holocaust denial and explicit hatred of Jews.

During a meeting in October, Labour staff are said to have delivered four reports to the social media giant, totalling 100 pages – containing 250 pieces of evidence and identifying several Facebook users believed to spread prejudice on social media.

One of the groups, entitled “Truthers Against Zionist Lobbies,” was closed down in December after an intervention from the Countdown presenter Rachel Riley, who submitted evidence to Facebook.

Labour staff reportedly renewed their appeal to the social media company during another meeting on 11 February, where they provided further evidence of alleged antisemitism.

None of the administrators are thought to be current party members – though some have been expelled or suspended.

Labour’s general secretary Jennie Formby raised  antisemitism concerns to the moderators and administrators of several Facebook groups sympathetic to Labour in 2018.

Officials noticed some improvements in some – but not all groups.

A Labour Party source said: “The party is taking action against individual Labour members over antisemitism but we don’t have the power to police the internet. Facebook needs to step up to stamp out hate on their platform.”

A spokesman for Facebook said several of the accounts and posts were removed and that community standards “make very clear that there is absolutely no place for hate speech” on the website.

“Since these groups and pages were brought to our attention, we have started a thorough investigation and, to date, have removed multiple accounts and pieces of violating content,” he said.

He added: “These are very difficult issues and we know that there is content here which, while not against our rules, is still offensive. That is why we are constantly developing and reviewing our policies, and consulting with organisations here in the UK and around the world, to try to ensure we’re getting it right.

“We are currently exploring what additional steps we can take to enhance our rules in this area, particularly in cases like this which involve hateful stereotypes.”

The Labour Party is currently being investigated by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission over allegations of antisemitism – making it the second political party to be probed by the human rights watchdog.

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