Twitter Faces Celebrity Boycott Over Anti-Semitism

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Following slow response to anti-Semitic tweets from grime musician Wiley, dozens of celebrities stage 48-hour boycott of platform

Twitter’s torrid July continues with news of a celebrity boycott over its alleged inaction and the time it took to tackle some of the anti-Semitic tweets from grime musician Wiley.

Police are currently investigating a series of offensive antisemitic comments posted by Wiley, 41, whose real name is Richard Cowie. He posted conspiracy theories about Jewish people and other insulting material last Friday.

Wiley also posted a video on Instagram in which he said “crawl out from under your little rocks and defend your Jewish privilege”. Twitter has been criticised for taking time to act and leaving some tweets up, 12 hours after he posted them.

Some of the tweets have been subsequently taken down.

Offensive tweets

Wiley’s offensive tweets prompted instant reaction in political circles. Even Wiley’s management company, A-List Management, “cut all ties”.

Twitter has banned Wiley’s account for seven days.

The offensive tweets from Wiley prompted an immediate response from the Government, that saw Home Secretary Priti Patel writing to Twitter and Instagram about the length of time it took to remove the “abhorrent” posts.

And even Number 10 Downing Street got involved.

Social media companies must “go much further and faster in removing hateful content” from their platforms, the prime minister’s spokesman reportedly said.

“Social media companies need to go much further and faster in removing hateful content such as this,” the PM’s spokesman told reporters. “The message is clear: Twitter needs to do better on this.”

Celebrity boycott

Meanwhile dozens of Twitter users – including actor Jason Isaacs, musicians Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Jessie Ware, Lord Alan Sugar, and TV presenter Rachel Riley – have begun a 48-hour boycott of the social media platform.

The boycott began 9am on Monday morning and is lasting 48 hours until 9am on Wednesday. And one security expert warned Twitter that it has to learn from incidents like this.

“Hate speech continues to be a huge problem for social media platforms, and if they do not learn from this incident, boycotts like this could last for much longer than just 48 hours,” said Jake Moore, cybersecurity specialist at ESET.

“It comes as an important reminder to report any sort of abuse, hate speech, or cyber bullying as soon as possible – this battle will only be won in numbers, as people stand together in solidarity,” said Moore.

“There is no place online for verbal abuse or hate speech, but until Twitter and other social media platforms make it difficult for those to post whatever they like, using the mute and block functions alongside the report button are very useful for limiting what comes across your feed,” he concluded.

Torrid time

Twitter is already reeling from a torrid couple of weeks, after its internal systems were hacked to compromise the Twitter accounts belonging to some very public figures and corporations including Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates, that tweeted a bitcoin scam that offered to double people’s bitcoin payment.

Twitter meanwhile has made some attempts to ease the toxic atmosphere and comments the microblogging website is unfortunately famous for.

Twitter for example has begun testing setting changes to limit who could reply to a person’s tweets in a move designed to limit online abuse.

Twitter also said recently it is testing sending users a prompt, warning them when their tweet reply uses “harmful language”.

Co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Twitter Jack Dorsey in April 2019, said he wanted to change the platform and move “away from outrage and mob behaviour and towards productive, healthy conversation.”

One of those measures to stop its platform being used to distort the political landscape for example, saw Twitter in November 2019 ban all political advertising worldwide.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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