Facebook removes page belonging to conspiracy theorist David Icke

Social networks still carrying former footballer’s bogus information about coronavirus

Facebook has removed a page belonging to David Icke after social media platforms came under pressure for giving a platform to the conspiracy theorist, whose bogus messages about Covid-19 have continued to gain viewers.

A page belonging to the former footballer was removed for repeatedly violating Facebook’s policies on harmful misinformation, the company said on Friday.

But while the deleted page had more than 770,000 followers, a secondary account with more than 68,000 followers remained active. A verified account for him also remained on Twitter, which said it was prioritising the removal of Covid-19 content when it had a call to action that could potentially cause harm.

The move by Facebook came ahead of a call by an anti-hate group, the Centre for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), for social networks to remove Icke from their platforms. It was backed by figures including the doctors and broadcasters Christian Jessen, Dawn Harper and Pixie McKenna.

It also comes against the backdrop of attacks on mobile phone masts across the UK and elsewhere at a time amid concern about the impact of baseless theories linking coronavirus to 5G networks.

A report by the CCDH claims that Icke’s conspiracies about coronavirus have been viewed more than 30m times. Based on an analysis of videos that feature Icke speaking about the coronavirus on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, the group described him as the leading producer of misinformation on Covid-19.

Imran Ahmed, the chief executive of the CCDH, said that Facebook must now look at what he described as a vast network of pages and groups in which Icke’s content was being shared.

“While people around the world make enormous sacrifices to stall this pandemic, social media firms are instead profiting from the proliferation of misinformation on their platforms,” he said.

“Misinformation puts all of our lives at risk by encouraging the public not to comply with clinical guidance.

The action against Icke’s social media presence was also welcomed by Hope Not Hate, which said: “Icke’s deluded, often antisemitic, posts encourage harmful lies to spread. Other platforms should follow Facebook’s lead.”

The local television station London Live was sanctioned recently after the media regulator, Ofcom, found it had posed a threat to the public’s health by showing a lengthy interview with Icke about the coronavirus pandemic.

Icke, who has repeated discredited claims that the pandemic is linked to 5G, had used the broadcast to claim without evidence that the pandemic was cover for a supposed global world order to crash the economy, end the use of cash payments and track people.

Contributor

Ben Quinn

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Tech giants struggle to stem 'infodemic' of false coronavirus claims
Critics say efforts are too little, too late as research reveals vast majority of false claims appear online

Julia Carrie Wong

10, Apr, 2020 @8:46 AM

Article image
Donald Trump suspended from Facebook indefinitely, says Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook CEO accuses president of intending to undermine peaceful transition of power

Alex Hern and Kari Paul

07, Jan, 2021 @6:59 PM

Article image
Social media addiction should be seen as a disease, MPs say
UK report suggests sites such as Facebook and Instagram could be harming mental health

Jim Waterson Media editor

18, Mar, 2019 @12:01 AM

Article image
A ‘safe space for racists’: antisemitism report criticises social media giants
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok failing to act on most reported anti-Jewish posts, says study

Maya Wolfe-Robinson

02, Aug, 2021 @4:14 PM

Article image
Just one in four Britons trust news on social media, finds survey
Reputation damaged by fake news scandals, the spread of extremist propaganda and child safety issues

Haroon Siddique

22, Jan, 2018 @12:01 AM

Article image
The royal twitterati: how the monarchy learned to love social media
The Queen and princes Charles, William and Harry have been quick to realise the power of social media to boost popularity

Caroline Davies

16, Feb, 2017 @6:37 PM

Article image
Life before and after Facebook
Social media has caused havoc to families – teenagers’ fear of missing out means that the home is no longer the sanctuary it used to be

Suzanne Franks

03, Jan, 2015 @6:30 AM

Article image
Facebook boycott grows as US activists urge European firms to act
Call for companies to withdraw advertising comes as Wiley is suspended from platform over Instagram posts

Alex Hern Technology editor

28, Jul, 2020 @3:23 PM

Article image
Social media firms 'should hand over data amid suicide risk'
Royal College of Psychiatrists hope research will shine light on how young people use platforms

Denis Campbell Health policy editor

17, Jan, 2020 @12:01 AM

Article image
Wiley's racism flowed because social media is a petri dish of hate | Nish Kumar
The rapper will pay for his antisemitism but nothing else will change. Twitter and Instagram were once cute but have turned vicious, writes the comedian Nish Kumar

Nish Kumar

27, Jul, 2020 @5:02 PM