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Facebook must remove all neonazi accounts using it as a shopfront to fund extremism, anti-racist campaigners demand

Centre For Countering Digital Hate exposes how tech giants have provided hate groups with a platform to generate funding

FACEBOOK must immediately remove neonazi accounts from its platforms, Labour and anti-racists demanded today after a report revealed it was being used as a shopfront to fund far-right extremism.

A Centre For Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) investigation revealed on Saturday that Facebook and Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, were still hosting neonazi networks with over 80,000 followers, despite being warned about the problem two years ago.

The accounts are using the social media sites to openly sell products featuring symbols of the Nazi SS, the glorification of Nazi death squads, and anti-semitic hate.

CCDH exposed the international far-right networks behind the accounts and their links to known extremists such as Ukraine’s Azov Battalion and the Misanthropic Division. 

The report shows how tech giants have provided them with a platform to reach mainstream audiences and generate funding.

Facebook had removed just 12 of the 61 accounts identified by CCDH by midday today.

Labour’s shadow digital and media secretary Jo Stevens said: “Facebook and Instagram must immediately remove the full network of neonazi accounts.

“This is yet another example of why Labour believes legislation is urgently required to regulate social media companies so they have clear responsibilities — in law — to prevent their products from being used in this way because self-regulation has failed.  

“The government has dragged its heels for too long and it is abundantly clear that the long-awaited online harms legislation cannot come soon enough.”

CCDH CEO Imran Ahmed, who is a member of the government’s Commission on Countering Extremism Pilot Task Force, said: “Facebook’s leadership endangered public safety by letting neonazis finance their activities through Facebook and Instagram.

“Facebook was first told about this problem two years ago and failed to act. This lack of action would not have gone unnoticed by extremists, who now know that Facebook allows them to recruit, organise and raise funds without interference.”

Mr Ahmed said both European and United States authorities needed to look at existing criminal sanctions to “deal with the executives of a private company knowingly enabling the financing of violent extremists.

“Where there are gaps in their powers, the upcoming Online Harms Bill needs to extend their ability to hold executives responsible through law,” he added. 

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