Twitter permanently bars Wiley for anti-Semitism after taking heavy criticism

UK rapper removed from platform after anti-Jewish social media tirade; company apologizes for not taking action sooner

Grime music artist Wiley during an event in London, October 18, 2017. (Ian West/PA via AP)
Grime music artist Wiley during an event in London, October 18, 2017. (Ian West/PA via AP)

Twitter permanently suspended influential British rapper Wiley on Wednesday after he posted a slew of anti-Semitic comments on the platform, and other social media, in the past week.

The company had come under heavy fire, particularly from UK Jews, for not taking quick and decisive action against the musician.

Twitter said it had conducted an investigation and determined Wiley’s tweets violated its policy against hateful conduct.

In a statement, Twitter apologized for not acting sooner and vowed to take a stand against anti-Semitism in the future.

“Let us be clear: hateful conduct has absolutely no place on our service and we strongly condemn anti-Semitism,” a Twitter spokesperson told The Times of Israel. “We are sorry we did not move faster and are continuing to assess the situation internally.

“We deeply respect the concerns shared by the Jewish community and online safety advocates, and we will continue to work closely with government, NGOs, civil society partners and our industry peers to tackle anti-Semitism on Twitter,” the statement said.

Twitter previously temporarily barred Wiley, whose name is Richard Kylea Cowie, and left his other tweets visible.

On Friday, Wiley posted a stream anti-Semitic tweets that included claims of connections between the Jewish community and the Ku Klux Klan, as well as repeated tropes about Jews and money.

“There are 2 sets of people who nobody has really wanted to challenge #Jewish & #KKK but being in business for 20 years you start to undestand [sic] why … Red Necks Are the KKK and Jewish people are the Law…Work that out,” the grime artist tweeted to his nearly half a million followers.

“Jewish people don’t care what black went through they just use us to make money to feed their kids… for generations as well,” he wrote in another tweet.

In apparent response to users reporting his tweets to law enforcement and Twitter, Wiley lashed out again: “Black people don’t call the police but jewish cowards do when wiley speak his mind FUCK YOU.”

After his temporary suspension, Wiley moved his tirade to Facebook, where he threatened to go to a largely Jewish-populated neighborhood of London and singled out Jewish public figures who have been critical of him.

“Golders green yes see you soon I will come on my own,” Wiley wrote, referencing the largely Jewish-populated London neighborhood.

“Who called the police? Are you from Golders Green? I am coming to sit down with you in Golders Green …” he added, according to Britain’s Jewish News, which captured screen shots of the comments.

Facebook and Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, promptly suspended his accounts on Tuesday, saying his posts violate its policies, according to UK media reports.

The president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Marie van der Zyl, had  called on Facebook to remove Wiley from the platform in a statement earlier on Tuesday.

Facebook had also faced pressure from UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis to act against Wiley.

British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis speaks at a National Holocaust Memorial Day event at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, on January 26, 2017, in London, England. (Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Johnson believes the grime artist’s messages were “abhorrent” and warned that “social media companies need to go much further and faster in removing hateful content,” his spokesman told the Daily Mail.

Mirvis accused Twitter and Facebook of “complicity” in online anti-Semitism on Sunday, charging that the two social media giants’ “inaction” had allowed hate to flourish on their platforms.

“For too long, social media has been a safe space for those who peddle hatred and prejudice,” Mirvis wrote in letters sent to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who is Jewish.

On Monday, Mirvis joined a host of British politicians, celebrities, high-profile figures and other users who signed off of Twitter for two days to protest anti-Semitic hate on the social media platform.

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