YouTube all-but bans far-right figure Tommy Robinson by placing a ton of restrictions on his channel


Tommy Robinson

  • YouTube says it is imposing a sweeping set of restrictions on far-right figure Tommy Robinson.
  • The restrictions include likes, comments, and suggested videos from his posts. YouTube will also stop Robinson from posting live videos.
  • Twitter booted Robinson off its platform in March 2018, and he was banned by Facebook in February of this year.

YouTube is imposing a set of restrictions to decrease the visibility of far-right figure Tommy Robinson, real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, but is not banning him outright.

A YouTube spokeswoman told Business Insider that the company had consulted with outside experts to reach its decision about Robinson. It follows a report in BuzzFeed detailing the measures against Robinson.

Read more: Facebook has banned far-right activist Tommy Robinson for spreading Islamophobia

“After consulting with third party experts, we are applying a tougher treatment to Tommy Robinson’s channel in keeping with our policies on borderline content,” the spokeswoman said.

Robinson, who founded the English Defence League, has gained a high profile in the UK and in the US, where he has garnered support from Steve Bannon and Donald Trump Jr. He recently gave a speech at a pro-Brexit rally outside the UK parliament.

Here’s the action YouTube is taking against Tommy Robinson:

  • Robinson won’t be able to livestream videos on his channel.
  • His videos won’t have suggested videos, likes, or comments.
  • A black slate or “interstitial” will appear before each video warning viewers that the material may not be appropriate, which they will then have to click through.
  • Robinson’s videos will be removed from YouTube’s “recommendations.”

YouTube also said it demonetized Robinson’s channel in January of this year, as it breaches the platform’s advertising policies.

Furthermore, according to BuzzFeed, Robinson’s videos also won’t be discoverable through YouTube’s search bar, meaning users will have to find them by clicking directly on a link. Robinson’s channel — which still bears a “verified” tick — had just shy of 390,000 subscribers at the time of writing.

YouTube was not immediately able to answer whether similar restrictions had been placed on anyone other than Robinson in the past.

Tommy Robinson video YouTube slate

Twitter banned Robinson in March 2018 for breaching its hateful conduct policy. Facebook banned him in February of this year for targeting Muslims with “dehumanizing language” and “calls for violence.”

Political pressure has been mounting on YouTube and its parent company, Google, to remove Robinson from its platform. Deputy leader of the Labour party Tom Watson wrote a letter in March to Google CEO Sundar Pichai asking that Robinson be removed as a “matter of urgency.”

Watson wrote this after Robinson was removed from Facebook, his followers were transferring their “virulent hate” to YouTube, citing a 30,000 jump in subscribers on his channel after Robinson was banned from Facebook.

SEE ALSO: Facebook bans a network of fake accounts that were trying to influence UK politics

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