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Far-right activist Tommy Robinson and Britain First turn to Russia's VK after being banned from TikTok and every big social platform

Tommy Robinson
  • Tommy Robinson, founder of the English Defence League, and far-right group Britain First have turned to Russian platform VK after being banned from every mainstream social media service. 
  • Both were kicked off TikTok on Friday for sharing content the company said "promoted hateful ideology".
  • Russia's VK has more than 100 million users worldwide, and has become a staple of the American far-right over the past few years.
  • In a livestream broadcast on VK on Sunday night, Robinson promised his fans VK would allow them to build a 'new mass following'. 
  • In a statement, a VK spokesperson told Business Insider the company would "closely monitor" the situation and check for violations. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
British far-right activists, driven off mainstream social media platforms, are now turning to Russian social media platform VK.
Tommy Robinson is the founder and ex-head of the notorious far-right groups the English Defence League and Britain First.
On Friday, both he and Britain First were kicked off TikTok for sharing content that "promote[s] hateful ideology". 
In a now-removed TikTok post, Robinson shared a TV interview clip of himself holding the Quran and saying: "This book is the reason we are in such a mess."
After being banned from TikTok, which is owned by China's ByteDance, Robinson wrote on VK on Saturday: "This is where I'll be from now, f*** China anyway, I'm buzzing that this app seems so easy & like Facebook but hopefully without the censorship..."
In a livestream broadcast to more than 30,000 on Sunday night, Robinson said: "Once people know this is where to find us, this is where we'll be ... We will build a new mass following.
"Russia! Mr Putin! Thank you."
VK, previously known as VKontakte, is a social media firm based in St Petersburg, founded by Pavel Durov in 2006.
Durov is also the founder of messaging app Telegram, which both Robinson and Britain First have used to push VK to their followers.
VK has more than 100 million users worldwide but has become a staple of the American far-right over the past few years, with The Atlantic describing it as "a home for white power groups" as early as 2016.
VK offers a similar experience to Facebook, but is perceived as a lighter touch when it comes to enforcing its terms and conditions.
Last year The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organization based in California, gave the platform a "D-" in its annual report for policing hate (compared to Facebook's "B-").
Having been banned by all the mainstream social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat, Britain's far-right has struggled to maintain a public presence, with their most loyal followers joining them on Telegram, which has its own history of harboring white nationalism.
While there is no evidence their actions were coordinated, both Tommy Robinson and Britain First advised their followers on Telegram to switch over to VK within 24 hours of one another.
In a video posted on VK, Britain First leader Paul Golding said: "If you haven't already, now is the time to open an account on VK, which is the equivalent of Russia's Facebook...We need to get all of our supporters on here."
A spokesperson for VK told Business Insider: "[We do not tolerate] calls for violence, nationalist or extremist propaganda in any country in the world...
"Every month, we delete hundreds of pieces of content and block thousands of profiles for promoting violence [or] cruelty, or distributing shocking content, on our platform...
"We will closely monitor the situation and check for violations in this community."
Business Insider approached Telegram for comment.
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Source
https://www.businessinsider.com/tommy-robsinon-and-britain-first-russian-social-media-tiktok-bans-2020-4?IR=T

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