‘The EDL took over my life’: Lowestoft man reveals how Facebook post led to him joining far right protest group
- Credit: Nick Butcher
When he first joined the English Defence League (EDL), Ivan Humble was a stay at home father.
It only took a seemingly innocuous comment on a Facebook video almost a decade ago to lead the Lowestoft man down a rabbit hole which ended with him signing up to the far right street protest movement.
Now after his departure from the organisation, for which he served as eastern regional organiser, the 46-year-old is campaigning to warn others of the potential dangers posed by social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter.
He explained: 'When I first got involved with the EDL I was a stay at home dad looking after my two kids.
'I was sitting at home on Facebook when I came across a post about Muslims attacking our troops during a homecoming parade in 2009.
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'At the time I was working with a charity to support troops and I commented on this video post. Within a couple of minutes people replied to my comment and shortly afterwards I was inboxed about joining the EDL - I was hooked, although I am not trying to glorify it.'
Mr Humble added: 'I guess I was missing having a social life and being a part of the page gave me the chance to interact with others.
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'The only reason I followed that path was I had nowhere to voice my views - but thanks to social media I found a voice.'
However, after growing disillusioned with the direction the group was heading and through speaking to individuals from other cultures Mr Humble's views altered which led to him leaving the EDL in 2013.
Following his departure he contacted Suffolk Hate Crime Service to offer his knowledge on far right political groups.
As a result Mr Humble now gives talks across the country offering advice to those looking to leave far right groups and encouraging others to think more critically of stories they read online.
'I have had nothing but positive feedback and being a part of these campaigns means I have a voice again but this time it is a positive voice.
'I have seen first hand how the internet can be abused by those who want to infiltrate our homes with hateful messages. Social media can be the best thing or the worst thing in the world.
'I now see the bigger picture, you cannot single out a particular group but when you are in that bubble you do not see that.
'There are good people and bad people in all areas of society, whether they are left or right wing, white or black.
'It was misguided hate and I made a few wrong decisions but these do not make me a bad person. I am now trying to right some of those wrongs,' said Mr Humble.
He added: 'The EDL took over my life. I neglected my kids, not by hurting them, but I would have rather gone to a demo than go to the park with them - but at the time you just don't see it happening.
'But now my kids are proud of me and being a positive role model for my kids is everything I could ask for.'
In recent years social media has become a prevalent part of everyday life.
The instant communication and rapid sharing of news and views, through the simple click of a button, is a positive element.
However, the instantaneous interactions facilitated by social media platforms can result in negative consequences.
But Mr Humble explains social media is a useful tool in promoting awareness of the threat of far-right radicalisation and critical thinking in the digital age.
This message is embodied through his affiliation with the Open Your Eyes to Hate Voices campaign – which saw the launch of the interactive film Choices, on February 27, to counter all forms of extremism in the UK.
For more information visit www.openyoureyestohate.com