A controversial French comedian repeatedly convicted of anti-Semitic comments was banned from Facebook and Instagram on Monday for posts mocking Holocaust victims.
Facebook said Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala had used “dehumanising terms against Jews” and "repeatedly violated our rules on hate speech.”
The comedian, known by his first name, Dieudonné, was fined €9,000 (more than £8,000) last year for anti-Semitic remarks, and was banned from YouTube.
“Banning a person permanently from our services is a decision that we always weigh carefully, but individuals and organisations that attack others on the basis of what they are do not have a place on Facebook and Instagram,” the company said.
The International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism said the comedian’s “torrent of hate” had caused “considerable and irreparable damage” to young people. “The air is more breathable on social networks this morning. An antisemite has stopped posting,” the league said on its Facebook page.
Dieudonné had some 1.3 million followers on Facebook and about 400,000 on YouTube. He had about 36,000 Instagram followers.
He is still on Twitter, with more than 150,000 followers.
He has been convicted several times in France and Belgium for racist comments, but his fans argue that he has a right to free speech. He has often condemned the “Zionist lobby” which he claims controls the world.
He was given a two-month suspended prison sentence for saying he sympathised with one of the perpetrators of a 2015 attack on the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo that killed 12 people.
He is the originator of the so-called ‘quenelle’, a gesture in which the left hand is placed on the opposite shoulder that is widely regarded as an inverted Nazi salute.
He received a two-year prison sentence last year for tax fraud and money-laundering, but was allowed to perform community service instead of being jailed.
The French government has tried several times to shut down his shows.
Facebook said it would take action to stop any future attempt by Dieudonné or anyone representing him to open new accounts.
Pressure is increasing on social media to take greater responsibility for content and remove misleading posts or ‘fake news’.
But some social media users questioned why Dieudonné was banned while others accused of Islamophobic posts are allowed to continue.