Twitter accused of hosting ‘vast swathes’ of anti-Semitic hate
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Twitter accused of hosting ‘vast swathes’ of anti-Semitic hate

The Home Affairs Select Committee called it 'disgraceful' that the social media giants allowed 'appalling' abuse

Vitriolic hatred on social media promoting material with often with anti-Semitic undertones
Vitriolic hatred on social media promoting material with often with anti-Semitic undertones

Twitter has been strongly criticised by MPs for hosting “vast swathes” of anti-Semitic hate speech and abuse.

The Commons Home Affairs Committee said it was “disgraceful” that Jewish people using the social media site were being subjected to “appalling” levels of online abuse.

It said the company – which enjoys global revenues of 2.2 billion dollars (£1.8 billion) – had to do more to tackle a problem which appeared to be growing “exponentially”.

In a hard-hitting report, the committee said it had been “shocked” at the “viscerally anti-Semitic nature and volume” of tweets directed specifically at MPs

It highlighted the case of Luciana Berger, the Labour MP for Liverpool Wavertree, who was targeted by a US-based neo-Nazi website.

In the space of just three days in 2014 she was reported to have received 2,500 abusive tweets, all with the same virulently anti-Semitic hashtag.

Two years on, the committee said that “alarmingly” some of the messages were still available online.

“This experience is no doubt common to many Jewish people outside Parliament, too,” the report said.

“It is disgraceful that any individual should have to tolerate such appalling levels of anti-Semitic abuse in order to use Twitter – a social media platform now regarded as a requirement for any public figure.

“In the context of global revenue of 2.2 billion dollars, it is deplorable that Twitter continues to act as an inert host for vast swathes of anti-Semitic hate speech and abuse.

“The company has the necessary resources and technical capability, and must do more to address this pernicious problem, which appears to be growing exponentially.”

The committee said Twitter needed to act in a “proactive manner” to identify abusive users rather than relying on the victims to monitor their accounts and then report it to the company.

It said more resources were needed for enforcement: currently, with a worldwide staff of 3,800, the committee said that even if a third of them were working in enforcement it equated to just one employee for every 82,000 active users or every 130,000 tweets each day.

While it welcomed the introduction of new tools to improve the ability of victims to report abuse, it said the measures did go far enough.

“While we welcome these changes, the scale of abuse on Twitter is a problem of such magnitude that it cannot be solved through quick fixes alone,” it said.

 

A Twitter spokesman said: “Hateful conduct has no place on Twitter and we will continue to tackle this issue head-on alongside our partners in industry and civil society.

“People must feel safe in order to speak freely and there is a clear distinction between freedom of expression and conduct that incites violence and hate.

“In tandem with actioning hateful conduct that breaches Twitter’s rules, we also leverage the platform’s incredible capabilities to empower positive voices, to challenge prejudice and to tackle the deeper root causes of intolerance.

“We look forward to further constructive dialogue between Government, our partners in civil society and our peers in the technology sector on this issue.”

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