The deputy leader of the far-right party Britain First shared a debunked anti-Muslim hoax leaflet on Twitter over the weekend.
Jadya Fransen, posting under the username @JadyaBF, tweeted: “When the Muslim community feel empowered enough to distribute these leaflets, you know your country’s Islamic appeasement has gone too far!” at 10:43 am on March 12, 2017.
The tweet promoted the For Public Purity campaign that Faith Matters exposed as a hoax. Clear indicators of a hoax included the registration of its domain to a server in the United States on March 29, 2016. On Facebook, the page shared an image that first appeared in a Methodist magazine published in 2012. Other concerns raised in the Faith Matters investigation included other examples of stolen images.
Yet, the most obvious example of the hoax concern the For Public Purity logo. The image below demonstrates how it spells the word ‘Lolz’.
Some 4Chan users did demonstrate a deeper knowledge of the campaign itself. It’s still unclear, however, who was behind the distribution of the leaflets in Manchester in July of last year.
This hoax did not stop the offending tweet gained hundreds of retweets. While some admirably did attempt to point out this obvious hoax, other comments, however, reflected a myriad of unrelated and deeper anxieties and prejudicial views towards Muslims more broadly. In one such example, the user @MissCJWright replied: “dogs impure but raping and beheading is fine??” This tweet also attracted non-violent extremist hate speech.
The 4publicpurity.org domain is no longer accessible, but the Facebook page remains inactive but accessible. This is a problem as it allows non-violent extremists to unabashedly propagate anti-Muslim hatred. In this example, the asynchronous nature of online discussions on Facebook may intensify the proliferation of more polarising and often hateful comments. Perhaps limiting the overall effectivness of counter speech.