SHARE
COPY LINK

POLITICS

Facebook shuts down Italian neo-fascist parties’ accounts

The official accounts of dozens of Italian far-right activists and the neo-fascist parties CasaPound and Forza Nuova were shut down on Monday for violating hate speech policies.

Facebook shuts down Italian neo-fascist parties' accounts
Members of Italian far-right political movement "Forza Nuova" at a demonstration in 2017. Photo: AFP

The parties have also been kicked off Instagram, which is owned by Facebook.

“People and organizations that spread hatred or attack others based on who they are, have no place on Facebook and Instagram,” Facebook said in a statement.

Rome-based CasaPound’s official Facebook page had almost 240,000 followers.

The Facebook and Instagram accounts of dozens of activists belonging to both far-right groups were also reportedly blocked.

 

CasaPound's Facebook page is history. Screenshot: Facebook

It’s not the first time the two groups have had accounts closed down, Italian news agency Ansa reports. Last April, shortly before the European elections, Facebook closed down the profiles of several high-profile members of both movements.

Both groups' Twitter accounts remain active.

The parties' chiefs – who also had their personal accounts shut – slammed the move as anti-democratic.

Gianluca Iannone, president of CasaPound, protested that the move was “an unprecedented attack”, telling Ansa the group would be filing an “urgent class action law suit against an act of disgraceful prevarication.”

The move was hailed as “exemplary” and “a correct and courageous choice” by the leader of Italy’s Democratic Party, Nicola Zingaretti.

“We must share and spread these important words to put an end to the season of hatred,” he told local media. “These are people who would deny others the right to exist.”

“Apology for fascism in Italy is not an opinion. It is a crime.”

On Monday, activists from both groups took part in a demonstration, alongside the League and Brothers of Italy, against the new left-leaning and pro-European government

In front of parliament, where Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte was giving a speech, they could be heard chanting “Duce! Duce!” – the title fascists used to address 20th-century dictator Benito Mussolini – and were seen performing the fascist salute.

Italy’s prime minister Giuseppe Conte on Monday called on the political class and Italian citizens to
moderate their tone – particularly on social networks – following 14 months of a populist government which has fomented hate and division, particularly via the internet.

READ ALSO:                                                                                                          

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

POLITICS

Second Italian minister takes anti-mafia reporter Saviano to court

Just weeks after going on trial in a case brought by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Italian investigative journalist Roberto Saviano was back in court on Wednesday facing allegations of defamation lodged by Meloni's deputy, Matteo Salvini.

Second Italian minister takes anti-mafia reporter Saviano to court

Deputy Prime Minister Salvini, whose far-right League party is a key member of Meloni’s coalition, is suing the journalist for calling him the “minister of the criminal underworld” in a social media post in 2018.

In November, Saviano went on trial in a case brought by Meloni for calling her a “bastard” in 2020 over her attitude towards vulnerable migrants.

READ ALSO: Press freedom fears as Italian PM Meloni takes Saviano to trial

Meloni’s far-right Brothers of Italy party was in opposition at the time, but won September elections on a promise to curb mass migration.

Saviano, known for his international mafia bestseller “Gomorrah”, regularly clashes with Italy’s far-right and says the trials are an attempt to intimidate him.

He faces up to three years in prison if convicted in either trial.

“I think it is the only case in Western democracies where the executive asks the judiciary to lay down the boundaries within which it is possible to criticise it,” Saviano said in a declaration in court on Wednesday.

He said he was “blatantly the victim of intimidation by lawsuit”, on trial “for making my opinion, my thoughts, public”.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about press freedom in Italy

Press freedom watchdogs and supporters of Saviano have called for the suits to be scrapped. Meloni refused in November, despite criticism that her position of power makes it an unfair trial.

Armed guard

Saviano has lived under police protection since revealing the secrets of the Naples mafia in 2006.

But when Salvini was appointed interior minister in a previous government in June 2018, he suggested he might scrap Saviano’s armed guard.

The writer reacted on Facebook, saying Salvini “can be defined ‘the minister of the criminal underworld’,” an expression he said was coined by anti-fascist politician Gaetano Salvemini to describe a political system which exploited voters in Italy’s poorer South.

READ ALSO: Anti-mafia author Saviano won’t be ‘intimidated’ by Salvini

He accused Salvini of having profited from votes in Calabria to get elected senator, while failing to denounce the region’s powerful ‘Ndrangheta mafia and focusing instead on seasonal migrants.

Salvini’s team are expected to reject any claim he is soft on the mafia.

Saviano’s lawyer said he will call as a witness the current interior minister Matteo Piantedosi, who at the time was in charge of evaluating the journalist’s police protection.

The next hearing was set for June 1st.

Watchdogs have warned of the widespread use in Italy of SLAPPS, lawsuits aimed at silencing journalists or whistleblowers.

Defamation through the media can be punished in Italy with prison sentences from six months to three years, but the country’s highest court has urged lawmakers to rewrite the law, saying jail time for such cases was unconstitutional.

Saviano is also being sued by Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano in a civil defamation case brought in 2020, before Sangiuliano joined the cabinet.

A ruling in that case could come in the autumn. If he loses that case Saviano may have to pay up to 50,000 euros in compensation, his lawyer told AFP.

Italy ranked 58th in the 2022 world press freedom index published by Reporters Without Borders, one of the lowest positions in western Europe.

SHOW COMMENTS