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Coronavirus: David Icke kicked off Facebook

BBC Technology 01 May 2020 01:18
David Icke

Facebook has taken down the official page of conspiracy theorist David Icke for publishing "health misinformation that could cause physical harm".

Mr Icke has made several false claims about coronavirus, such as suggesting 5G mobile phone networks are linked to the spread of the virus.

In one video, he suggested a Jewish group was behind the virus.

Following the ban, his Twitter account posted: "Fascist Facebook deletes David Icke - the elite are TERRIFIED."

Facebook said in a statement: "We have removed this Page for repeatedly violating our policies on harmful misinformation''.

Campaign

On Friday, campaign group the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) published an open letter calling on tech companies to ban Mr Icke's accounts.

The letter said Amazon, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube had amplified "Icke's racism and misinformation about Covid-19 to millions of people".

It was co-signed by MP Damian Collins, as well as celebrity medics Dr Christian Jessen, Dr Dawn Harper and Dr Pixie McKenna.

As examples, it cited:

The letter was published after Facebook had removed Mr Icke's page.

When asked for his reaction to reports of 5G masts being set on fire in England and Northern Ireland, he responded: "If 5G continues and reaches where they want to take it, human life as we know it is over... so people have to make a decision."

Later, the telecoms regulator Ofcom found local TV channel London Live in breach of standards for an interview it aired with Mr Icke about coronavirus.

Analysis

David Icke has promoted several conspiracy theories on social media throughout the pandemic - and has consequently found himself in hot water with social media sites and broadcasting regulators.

This is a difficult area for social media sites to tackle.

But the setting alight of mobile phone towers and abuse of telecommunications workers linked to this 5G coronavirus conspiracy has pushed sites like Twitter and TikTok to tighten their rules.

Governments and social media sites alike grapple with the fine balance between stemming harmful narratives and allowing freedom of expression. But experts point out that they can do both with effective moderation and collaboration.

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Mr IckeCCDHFacebookDavid Ickepublishing health misinformation
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