From the Times.
Facebook approved pro-Brexit adverts containing material promoting Tommy Robinson and threatening the creation of a Leaver army, which campaigners allege is racist. The adverts, which were viewed thousands of times, were listed as paid for by the Brexit Defence Force under Facebook’s transparency policy for political ads and were reviewed and approved by Facebook staff.
One of the adverts, which ran in February on the Brexit Votes Matter page, depicted Shamima Begum, the British-born Isis bride, with a photoshopped image of a baby with a black man’s face holding an AK-47 assault rifle. The advert was captioned: “We voted Brexit to MAKE BRITAIN GREAT AGAIN . . . and to secure our borders!” It was viewed between 1,000 and 5,000 times at a cost to the “defence force” of less than £100.
Another advert from the group promoted Robinson, the far-right figurehead, in a photo with troops that triggered an army investigation. “FREE speech is not hate speech,” the advert urged. Facebook approved the promotion last month despite banning Robinson from its platform in February for repeatedly breaking its policies on hate speech. An advert from December warned that MPs who “undermine the people’s victory” could be guilty of treason. It said that should its legal team agree that they have committed treason “we will raise a Brexit ARMY of at least 100,000 ex-servicemen and working men to execute CITIZENS’ arrests on ALL criminals who commit TREASON”.
The adverts were identified by the People’s Vote UK campaign. They included one that depicted a model wearing suspenders and a union flag corset with a caption criticising “remoaner Globalist scumbags” and stating that “the likes of Starmer, Soubrey, Umuna [sic], Grieve, Burkow [sic], Khan etc. and the FAKE media are now CROSSING THE LINE of TREASON to our Democracy”.
Facebook’s policies say that “before adverts appear on Facebook or Instagram they’re reviewed to make sure they meet our advertising policies” and that advertisers may not “include discriminatory content in their ads”. The site’s community guidelines ban all forms of hate speech, which they define “as a direct attack on people based on what we call protected characteristics — race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, caste, sex, gender, gender identity and serious disease or disability”. Facebook has been criticised over the limitations of a new policy that requires political adverts to state who is funding them. The transparency policy does not require the adverts to identify the individuals who are bankrolling them. In this case, for example, they only stated that they were paid for by the “Brexit Defence Force”. Other so-called dark adverts have been widely used by both sides of the Brexit argument.
Mary Fitzgerald, editor-in-chief of Open Democracy, said: “It’s yet another example of how a lack of transparency in campaigning and lobbying in Britain can influence the debate in concerning ways. It should be incumbent on all those involved in political campaigning, on both sides of the Brexit debate, to be transparent about all their sources of funding.” Brexit Votes Matter told The times: “Brexit Votes Matter is run by around 30 ex-forces guys who support Brexit and Democracy. We are all colours and are 100 per cent anti-racist and anti-violence in politics. Like many people we 100 per cent oppose any terrorists being allowed back into the UK regardless of their race.
“Tommy Robinson is an anti-racist patriot and has huge support in the UK. In no way would we agree with everything he has ever said, or indeed know what he’s ever said.” To its Brexit army claims, it said: “The point is if there is an illegal coup in this country, the people would be within their rights to demand the arrest of criminals. We have made it very clear on our page that we uphold the law, support democracy 100 per cent and peaceful protest only.”
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"Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die today." - James Dean
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While loving someone deeply gives you courage" - Laozi
Ho dear Mr Robinson running for the EU elections?
Did someone show Tommy the way to his deposit then?
'Pass the cow dung, my dropsy's killing me' - Heraclitus