Technology

Second Tommy Robinson YouTube channel bypasses restrictions on his account

The far-right activist asks for support and donations on a new page linked to his European election campaign, despite recent YouTube restrictions.

Far-right activist Tommy Robinson is asking for donations for his European election campaign on a new YouTube channel, despite the video platform imposing strict restrictions on him last month.

The new channel, separate from his main page and called “Vote Tommy Robinson MEP for North West, England”, was created at the end of April, according to its YouTube information page.

It includes videos asking for donations to Robinson’s campaign and contains many of YouTube’s regular features, such as likes and comments, despite his main YouTube channel being heavily restricted to prevent such activity last month.

Facing calls to follow Facebook and Instagram in permanently banning the activist, real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, YouTube introduced measures which meant all of the activist’s videos now come with a content warning before anyone is able to watch them, and are removed from recommendations, while users can no longer comment, suggest or like the videos.

He was also banned from live-streaming on the platform, and advertising has been banned on his channel since January.

However, videos from the new account do appear in YouTube search results and have comments and likes activated.

The home page of the new campaign channel carries the message “This account is operated by the campaign to elect Tommy Robinson as MEP for North West, England”, while videos come with notes that read “This account is not run by Tommy Robinson”.

In response, a YouTube spokeswoman said: “Balancing freedom of expression with our priority of ensuring that YouTube remains a safe environment for community is not always straightforward.

“That’s why we’ve applied tougher treatment to Tommy Robinson’s channel in keeping with our policies on borderline content.

“The third party-run Vote Tommy Robinson MEP for North West of England channel shares information about an official political candidate running for public office.

“We’ll take swift action should content on the channel violate our policies.”

YouTube also confirmed that advertising was blocked on the new channel and it had earned no revenue.

However, Labour MP Yvette Cooper, the chairwoman of the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, accused YouTube of “repeatedly failing to act”, despite the committee making it aware of “hateful and extremist content” on the platform.

“Even worse than just hosting these channels, YouTube’s money-making algorithms are actually promoting them, pushing more and more extremist content at people with every click,” she said.

“We know what can happen when hateful content is allowed to proliferate online and yet YouTube and other companies continue to profit from pushing this poison.

“It’s just not good enough.

“Other social media companies are at least trying to tackle the problem but YouTube and Google aren’t taking any of this seriously enough.

“They should be accountable for the damage they are doing and the hatred and extremism they are helping to spread.”

When placing the restrictions on Robinson’s account last month, YouTube said it had applied “tougher treatment” to Robinson’s channel “in keeping with our policies on borderline content”.

English Defence League founder Robinson has previously said efforts to ban him online were part of the “corrupt media and the establishment” trying “to silence any opposition to their globalist plans”.

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