Twitter ‘not capable or interested in’ tackling antisemitism

An organisation which partnered with Twitter to tackle antisemitism has accused the social media company of inaction against anti-Jewish hate on its platform.

Last summer, the Campaign Against Antisemitism held a protest at Twitter’s London headquarters after British rapper Wiley made a number of antisemitic comments across several social media networks.

The organisation said that following interventions from the prime minister and home secretary, Twitter was “forced to acknowledge the scale of antisemitic hatred on its platform and commit to addressing it.”

Within weeks, Twitter invited Campaign Against Antisemitism to become a “Twitter partner”, allowing it to report problematic material directly through the company’s “partner portal” to Twitter personnel – rather than machines – for review.

The campaign has been submitting material for review on a regular basis and also summarising antisemitic material in monthly reports across December, January, and February.

It submitted a selection of 1,000 antisemitic tweets to Twitter incorporating classic antisemitic tropes, Holocaust denial and anti-Jewish incitement. Among them were numerous tweets incorporating the hashtag #HitlerWasRight or the phrase “Holohoax” and references to “fake Jewish Holocaust”, conspiracies about Jewish power and control, blood libels against Jews, calls to “Gas the Jews” and other extreme antisemitic hate speech and abuse.

But the organisation said that 60 per cent of the tweets it submitted were not deemed to have breached Twitter policies on hate, despite being the same or similar to the 40 per cent that were identified as breaking the rules.

In December, it reported 239 tweets, of which only 43 were found to be in violation of Twitter policy.

The Campaign Against Antisemitism said Twitter had originally agreed to monthly meetings, but that all meetings after the first was held in December had been cancelled.

According to the organisation, while it continues to send reports to Twitter, they have no longer been acknowledged or acted upon.

The anti-hate group said that in short, Twitter cut off contact with it after it had "provided clear evidence that their policies on hateful material were failing."

Stephen Silverman, director of investigations and enforcement at Campaign Against Antisemitism, said that the organisation does not have confidence in Twitter’s capacity to address the “rampant antisemitism” on its platform.

“As Twitter’s partner in trying to combat anti-Jewish hate, we have not come to this conclusion lightly,” explained Silverman. “But the opacity of Twitter’s parameters, its inconsistent implementation of its own policies, its lack of interest in our offers of training for its personnel, and its decision ultimately to stop engaging with us at all, are not the actions of a company that takes antisemitism seriously.”

Silverman added: “If Twitter brought us on as a partner as some sort of fig leaf for its inaction, we are now laying bare the true picture of the company. Having cut off contact with us after we provided clear evidence that Twitter’s policies on hateful material are failing, it is clear that the company is neither capable nor interested in tackling antisemitism, and it must now fall to an independent regulator to assume that role instead. We continue to urge the Government to take action now to stem the tide of antisemitic hate online.”

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