Italian Court Orders Facebook To Restore Neo-Fascist Party’s Account

Italian Court Orders Facebook To Restore Neo-Fascist Party’s Account
Casapound activists protesting earlier this year in Rome. (Photo: Getty Images)

Back in September, Facebook blocked the account of Casapound, an Italian far-right party. Now, an Italian judge has ruled in favour of Casapound on the basis that removing the party’s account ‘prevented political pluralism.’ And to rub salt in the wound, Facebook also has to pay the group 15,000 euros ($23,947) in legal fees.

“The exclusion of the applicants [Casapound] from Facebook is in contrast with the right to pluralism…eliminating or strongly compressing the possibility for association…to express its political messages,” reads the court ruling, which was seen by Reuters.

Facebook initially blocked Casapound’s Facebook account and Instagram on the grounds it violated the company’s policy on spreading hate. At the time, the group’s Facebook page had roughly 250,000 followers.

While the judge’s ruling means the page will have to be restored in Italy, that’s not necessarily true overseas. Trying to access Casapound’s account from the U.S. will get you an error message saying “Sorry, this content isn’t available right now.” Also, the Roman court’s decision made no reference to the group’s Instagram page, which still appears to be down as of this writing. Facebook did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment. 

That said, the group’s Twitter page is still active with roughly 44,000 followers. Casapound leader Simone Di Stefano took to Twitter to crow about the decision. Auto-translated, the tweet reads “Apparently the ‘private’ do not do as they please, dear ignorant globalists! The judiciary ORDER to #Facebook to reopen our pages, citing the Consitution and stating that #CasaPound has the right to exist and the right to communicate on social media. Historial judgment!”

Moderating hate speech is a headache most social media giants have yet to figure out. Facebook itself has fumbled on multiple counts, despite claims it does a lot to fight hate speech. Civil rights groups say the company’s most recent internal audits were ‘woefully inadequate’ at addressing the platform’s hate speech problem.

Plus, a recent report also found that Facebook made $US1.6 ($2) million in ads from organisations identified by the Southern Poverty Law Centre as hate groups.