Portugal's far-right Chega vows legal action over 10-year Facebook curbs

FILE PHOTO: Far right political party Chega leader Andre Ventura reacts following results in the general election in Lisbon, Portugal, March 11, 2024. REUTERS/Pedro Rocha/File Photo

LISBON (Reuters) - Portugal's far-right party Chega will take legal action against Meta Platforms' decision to restrict the party's Facebook account for 10 years, a party spokesperson said on Tuesday.

The anti-immigration, populist Chega is the third-largest political party in Portugal, having quadrupled its parliamentary representation to 50 lawmakers in last month's snap election that underscored a pivot towards far-right populism in Europe.

The party said it had been informed by Meta that its account had been restricted for 3,649 days because its activity "disrespected our community standards".

"We're going to take legal action against this decision," Patricia Carvalho, a lawmaker and spokesperson for the party told Reuters, adding that Meta did not give restricted users the opportunity to appeal via the social media platform.

Meta didn't immediately reply to a request for comment.

"On Chega's Facebook page you can only share content published by other pages. We cannot create content," Carvalho said, calling the decision incomprehensible and an "unprecedented persecution of a political party in Portugal".

She declined to speculate on what may have provoked it.

The party was still posting videos and messages created by its parliamentary group's page on Tuesday.

Under Facebook's Community Standards, accounts can be restricted when there is a history of previous violations and/or the use of hate speech, incitement to violence or other policy infringements.

Chega's anti-immigration and anti-Roma rhetoric has in the past provoked accusations of discriminatory speech from across the political spectrum.

"This is an unacceptable form of censorship," the party's leader Andre Ventura wrote on social media platform X, calling on Chega supporters to show their indignation to Meta.

The party reaches many of its voters using social media. Chega's Facebook account has 199,000 followers and Ventura's TikTok account has over 280,000 followers.

(Reporting by Patrícia Vicente Rua; Editing by Andrei Khalip and Ros Russell)

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