UPDATE: Despite originally banning the group under hate speech rules, Facebook has reversed a ban on ‘Britian First’.
Facebook earlier today shut down the page of far-right political group Britain First under rules banning hate speech.
The group, which rallies against diversity, boasted more than 1.1 million followers – making it the largest political social media page in the UK.
However, Facebook took action to close the group’s page, which has been accused of spreading “hatred” and fabricated stories.
A notification from Facebook shared by the group says: “Your Page is currently not visible on Facebook. It looks like content posted on your Page doesn’t follow the Facebook Terms and Community Standards, so your page was unpublished.
“While people can use Facebook to challenge ideas, instittuions and practices, Facebook removes hate speech.
“Hate speech includes content that directly attacks people based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender or gender identity, or serious disabilities or diseases.”
Britain First leader Paul Golding said: “Facebook has launched a fascist attack on a registered, legal British political party on the verge of a major election campaign.”
The group said: “Facebook has taken the unbelievable step of closing down the enormous Britain First Facebook fan page.
“Recently, our fan page exceeded 1.1 million ‘Likes’, twice as big as the Conservative party page. Last week, over 150 million people worldwide looked at our page and posts.
“Facebook resisted attempts by political opponents hostile to Britain First to get our page closed down, but now it seems they have ‘unpublished’ it.
“This means that our 1.1 million supporters have been denied freedom of speech and expression.”
However, the decision seems to have now been reversed.
The group added: “Our 1.1 million supporters have their homepage back! Our leftwing opponents went into temporary celebration when our page was closed down but now they are furious!
“God bless all of our supporters!”
Despite a strong social media presence on Facebook, the group has struggled to convert its following into a real-word force.
The party fielded a candidate in the Rochester and Strood by-election in 2014, but attracted just 56 votes – below the Monster Raving Loony Party.
Facebook reaffirmed its ban on homophobic and transphobic hate speech under new set of community guidelines earlier this year.