Twitter faces 48-hour boycott over ‘failure to tackle antisemitism’

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Twitter faces 48-hour boycott over ‘failure to tackle antisemitism’

Anti-racism campaigners and public figures have joined calls for a mass walkout from the social media platform from Monday.

Justin Cohen is the News Editor at the Jewish News

Anti-racism campaigners and public figures have joined calls for a mass walkout from Twitter in protest at the site’s failure to sufficiently tackle antisemitism.

Users of the platform are being urged not to post on the platform for 48 hours from Monday at 9am. The action comes after Twitter failed to remove the account of British grime artist Wiley following a string of hate-filled posts to his half-a-million followers between Friday and Saturday morning.

Grime artist Wiley has been dropped by his management company over accusations of anti-Semitism.( Photo credit : Matt Crossick/PA Wire)

“Wiley’s is just one of a recent number of high profile and influential Twitter accounts that has incited racial hatred against Jews, receiving an insufficient response from the platform provider,” said organisers of the campaign that includes actress Tracy-Ann Oberman. “This incident reflects the need for clear legislation, such as the Online Harm Reduction Bill.”

Activist Saul Freeman, who tweets under @nuddering, approached Oberman with the idea of a mass walkout after she tweeted on Friday night that she might stop using the platform.

Twitter faced sustained criticism from the Jewish community and high-profile figures beyond including Piers Morgan after only removing a few of Wiley’s tweets and slapping him with a week-long ban, rather than taking down his account.

Among dozens who have already pledged to join the walkout before it was even publicly announced are anti-racism campaigner Sir Trevor Phillips, singer Beverley Knight, comedian Shappi Khorsandi, former MP Luciana Berger, broadcaster Maajid Nawaz and writers Nick Cohen and Sathnam Sanghera. The call for action also has the backing of the CST, Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council.

A spokesperson for the campaign said: “The action we are announcing today is to show that the Jewish community and its allies have had enough of platforms like Twitter acting as loudspeakers for antisemitism, amplifying the hatred of Jews to millions of other social media users.
“As soon as Wiley began posting his antisemitic tweets on Friday Twitter was flooded with requests to have his account taken down. In response Twitter deleted a couple of his tweets and gave the grime star a brief suspension. It was a completely inadequate response. Unless there is an immediate change in how Twitter operates then there will be further action, including legal action, against the organisation.”

Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said: “Recent weeks have seen people around the world come together to express their revulsion at racism. People will be disgusted at Wiley’s torrent of appalling racist messages, the length of time it took Twitter to deal with them and its pathetic response. This is a well-known musician with thousands of followers, many of them young and impressionable. Social media companies should live up to the values their users expect.”

Supporters are being urged to tweet at #nosafespaceforjewhate in the lead up the the walkout.

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