The man trolling Britain First, one ridiculous meme at a time

Evan Bartlett@ev_bartlett
Thursday 12 November 2015 14:40
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(Picture: Gareth Arnoult

It may have been dispiriting to learn this week that Britain First became the first "political party" in the country to reach 1 million followers on Facebook, but one man is fighting back - one ridiculous meme at a time.

Gareth Arnoult has been goading supporters of the far-right group for more than a year and a half - and now has 160,000 likes of his own.

Describing himself as a troll and blogger from Sheffield, Arnoult runs parody page Britain Furst and the satirical news website British Fake News Network.

The Britain First and Britain Furst logos

Britain First owes much of its success on social media to creating visually striking images with nationalist or "patriotic" messages that do not always explicitly reference its Islamophobic agenda.

I think it’s rather impressive that they have achieved the success they have, and they haven’t achieved it by being foolish - they are very clever with their marketing.

  • Gareth Arnoult

People's willingness to share a post on social media without really knowing its origin, or indeed veracity, is something that Arnoult has been able to tap in to (even if as a self-confessed "troll" his methods aren't to everyone's taste).

In an interview with i100.co.uk, the 23-year-old explained that both former BNP leader Nick Griffin and former EDL leader Tommy Robinson had inadvertently shared stories created by the group.

Some of those stories have included the suggestion that Channel 5 would stop airing Peppa Pig in Muslim majority areas and that the NHS was withholding donated organs from non-immigrants.

More recent posts on the Britain Furst page have included suggestions that David Cameron might cancel Christmas because of angry immigrants and that Big Ben might be re-named "Big Mohamed".

SAVE BRITIAN B4 THIS HAPPENS!!!11

Posted by Britain Furst on Thursday, 24 July 2014

Arnoult, who has also taken on Lad Bible (and won) in the past, set up the page after getting bored one day at work.

It's just to show that people will literally believe anything they read online. I find it works best with populist posts.

Despite littering the memes and messages on the page with grammatical errors and spelling mistakes - poking fun at some of the people who share (real) Britain First posts online - Britain Furst has enjoyed huge success.

ENUFF IS ENUFF

Posted by Britain Furst on Wednesday, 30 September 2015

The post about Cameron potentially cancelling Christmas to appease "offended" immigrants received hundreds of shares and over a thousand likes on Facebook.

While many of those sharing it were clearly in on the fun, a large number of people appeared to have taken it at face value, with comments like:

You move to different country surely you respect there customs The world has gone mad or I'm getting to old !!!!

And:

Christmas offends them?! What a Christmas tree is scary and offensive?! Get over yourselves, if it offends you just go somewhere where they don't celebrate it because it won't go away! It's actually laughable.

Laughable indeed.

shakira law: NOT EVEN ONCE

Posted by Britain Furst on Tuesday, 3 November 2015

But Arnoult explained that he wasn't surprised by the mixed reaction:

I get messages all the time from people I know with screenshots of people seriously sharing it. It's quite funny.

But populism is called populism for a reason. They know who they want to target and they do it well. I think it's a new age for far-right groups, and they are particularly skilled at social media marketing.

  • Gareth Arnoult

As worrying as Britain First's popularity online may seem, despite questions over the legitimacy of its Facebook following, Arnoult ultimately has an optimistic outlook:

They aren't a legitimate party by any degree so I'm not particularly worried about them ever having serious sway.

Although Paul Golding would probably disagree...

You can follow Britain Furst on Facebook here, and follow Gareth on Twitter here.

More: What happens when you tell right-wingers David Cameron wants to ban Christmas

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