A civil court in Rome has ruled that Facebook must immediately reactivate the account of the Italian neo-fascist party CasaPound and pay the group €800 (£675) for each day the account has been closed, according to local media.
Facebook shut the party’s account, which had 240,000 followers, along with its Instagram page in early September. A Facebook spokesperson told the Ansa news agency at the time: “Persons or organisations that spread hatred or attack others on the basis of who they are will not have a place on Facebook and Instagram. The accounts we removed today violate this policy and will no longer be present on Facebook or Instagram.”
The company must also pay €15,000 in legal costs, according to details of the ruling that the party shared with the Italian press. The judge reportedly ruled that without Facebook, the party was “excluded (or extremely limited) from the Italian political debate”.
CasaPound was founded in the late 1990s as a pro-Mussolini drinking club. Named after the 20th-century American poet Ezra Pound, who was known for his fascist sympathies and antisemitism, it claims to support a democratic variant of fascism but has been accused of encouraging violence and racism. In November two former militants were convicted of gang-raping a woman in Viterbo, in the Lazio region.
It is not the first time Facebook has taken action against the party. In April, activists from CasaPound as well as other far-right politicians – including the great-grandson of Mussolini – accused the company of discrimination after their accounts were suspended.
This week CasaPound threatened to infiltrate a national rally due to be held in Rome on Saturday organised by the Sardines, a movement that emerged in November in protest against the politics of the far right.
A Facebook spokesperson said the company was aware of the court’s decision “and we are reviewing it carefully”.