UK watchdog accuses Twitter of turning blind eye to antisemitic posts

Campaign Against Antisemitism says social media giant allowed posts on platform that said ‘Hitler was right,’ ‘Holohoax,’ called vaccines a Jewish conspiracy

Luke Tress is a JTA reporter and a former editor and reporter in New York for The Times of Israel.

A Twitter sign is shown outside of the social media giant's headquarters in San Francisco, October 26, 2016. (Jeff Chiu/AP)
A Twitter sign is shown outside of the social media giant's headquarters in San Francisco, October 26, 2016. (Jeff Chiu/AP)

A British watchdog group said Twitter allowed antisemitic statements to remain on its platform, including tweets saying “Hitler was right,” even after the posts were brought to the attention of its staff.

The Campaign Against Antisemitism said the social media giant enlisted the group’s help to police anti-Jewish vitriol, but ignored its findings and canceled meetings with its members.

The group said Friday that Twitter invited it to become a “Twitter partner” after controversy erupted last year over British rapper Wiley’s antisemitic tirades on social media. The partnership gave the Campaign Against Antisemitism a direct line to Twitter employees to report racist material.

The campaign flagged antisemitic tweets and submitted reports to Twitter in December, January and February. In total, the group, said it submitted around 1,000 tweets to the company for review.

Twitter deemed about 60 percent of the posts acceptable, the group said.

The group provided a sample of tweets it flagged on a single day in December that Twitter allowed to remain on its platform. Among the problematic posts were the statements, “All vaccines were created by Jews to control the population of the goyim”; “Biden’s now over 81 million votes? It’s like the Holohoax: you can just keep making up numbers”; and a post saying Jews were “controlling the world. They control media.”

The Campaign Against Antisemitism said the social media company’s employees were inconsistent in their decisions on racist tweets, taking down some posts but allowing others with the same content to remain on the site. The company did not explain its decision-making process and ignored offers to train its staff, the group charged.

Twitter also agreed to meet with the group each month to discuss progress combating antisemitism, but only held one meeting with the group, in December, then canceled all further meetings.

“In short, Twitter cut off contact with us after we provided clear evidence that their policies on hateful material were failing,” the campaign said.

“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,” said Stephen Silverman, the campaign’s director of investigations and enforcement.

Twitter’s hateful conduct policy bars users from advocating violence, or attacking people or threatening others due to race, religion, gender identity, disability, or other means of discrimination.

Users can flag posts they believe are problematic, and Twitter employs moderators to check the reports.

Last year, Twitter said it was expanding its definition of hateful content to ban language that “dehumanizes” people on the basis of race, ethnicity or national origin.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey last year told US Senate Republicans that tweets denying the Holocaust were not forbidden, but a spokesperson for the social media company said the posts could still be removed.

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