High-profile users boycott Twitter over anti-Semitic content, hate speech

Twitter is facing a boycott from high-profile users of its platform over its alleged inaction to address anti-Semitic speech, the BBC reports.

A group of British celebrities have gone silent on their Twitter accounts for 48 hours to protest.

It all started when UK rapper Wiley tweeted content on Friday referring to conspiracies about Jews.

Twitter has removed the offensive comments and suspended Wiley’s account. But the damage already reached around 500,000 of his followers.

Critics say that Twitter acted slow despite its extremely public nature.

The British government shared its concern as well.

British Home Secretary Priti Patel said that social media firms must act fast against hatred from their platforms. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson echoed the remarks.

Governments worldwide are pushing social media platforms to address racism and hate speech in recent years.

French President Emmanuel Macron and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern pushed for tech firms to adopt the Christchurch Call last year.

Governments and tech firms committed to remove radical and violent extremist content online.

The movement was on the heels of the Christchurch massacre. A local terrorist attacked two mosques and killed or injured over 100 people. He streamed his acts on Facebook Live.

Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Twitter agreed to take more action. But gaps still exist under the new regulations.

Facebook is under pressure recently to address hate speech due to posts by US President Donald Trump.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced last month that the platform would review its policies to address the angst. So far, its steps have been limited.


hate speech

Finding the balance

Social media platforms walk a thin line. They want more engagement. But their users rely more on them for news and information. They now have a duty to control shared content to limit its harm.

Who decides what is harmful or not?

Trump has accused social networks of conservative bias. But most evidence suggest that social networks have worked hard for inclusion and diversity. They also limit direct threats and hate speech whenever they can.

Twitter has flagged some of Trump’s tweets. He tweets the same remarks as he has on Facebook. And Twitter seems more willing than Facebook to address hate speech in all its forms.

Governments have more regulations in place for social media platforms to ensure they respond to incidents faster. But how fast is faster?

For instance, Twitter should remove hate comments within 30 minutes. Yet, it depends on the reporting system, the staff available, the approval systems and other variables.

Twitter cannot monitor each tweet manually. If an offending tweet slips through its auto-detection systems, it relies on user reports to take action.

Some offensive remarks will slip through, even with the best detection systems in place.

Author: Francis Rey

Francis is a voracious reader and prolific writer. He has been writing about social media and technology for more than 10 years. During off hours, he relishes moments with his wife and daughter.

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