LONDON (JTA) – Jews and Jewish organizations throughout the UK and beyond are currently silent on Twitter and Instagram to protest racist harassment being allowed to play on both platforms for hours over the weekend.
This is not an action we have thought of before – but we have never been confronted with this kind of racism.
On Friday, rapper Wiley is becoming famous now anti-Semitic rant in twitter. He compared the Jews with the KKK. He called the Jews “snakes” and “cowards.” He claimed the Jews were at war with black people. He uses the metaphor of the Jews who control wealth and power. Strangely, he also accused the Jews of taking Black Africans in Israel and enslaving them.
This is a summary of some wild racism transmitted by Wiley – real name Richard Cowie – to more than 500,000 followers.
We in the Jewish community, and anti-racists in the United Kingdom and around the world, watch with ever greater horror as tweets continue to arrive. His account was reported several times by many people, but Twitter did nothing. When Twitter finally decided that there was a problem, the organization acted too little, too late. That deleted some of the most offensive tweets and stopped Wiley from making more, but didn’t permanently suspend his account. Some material is left online.
Wiley then moved to Instagram, where harsh words continued. There are several examples of online anti-Semitism which were not immediately deleted, but never this much from an account with more than half a million followers. There are times when we have to say that it’s enough. This is the moment.
We always recommend that Twitter doesn’t have to provide a platform for racists – whether they are peddling anti-Semitism, anti-Black racism, Islamophobia or whatever.
We have strict laws about incitement to racial hatred in Britain, including anti-Semitism. Wiley surpassed them openly from time to time. However, the two largest social media platforms in the world prove themselves unable to end this row of racist harassment despite having concrete evidence.
For the record, we believe that Wiley must be prosecuted for his actions and his MBE – an honor given to him by the Queen – must be erased. But this is not about Wiley. This can be anyone. Had his comment and account been deleted quickly, as it should have, this would have been a regrettable incident about the individual’s fall from grace. Because of this, two of the largest social media companies in the world appear involved in broadcasting racist material.
Our community and other minorities in the UK and beyond have been disappointed by social media companies for too long. Black Jews, in particular, felt very vulnerable to Wiley’s attack. In Britain, we only need to think about how right-wing activists Katie Hopkins and Tommy Robinson allowed to spread hatred and lies on this platform for years. Indeed, the Hopkins and Robinson ban was ultimately something we salute.
But social media is far from a safe environment. For that reason, the Jewish community in the UK decided that for 48 hours starting Monday morning – roughly the length of Wiley’s harsh words – we would stay on Twitter and Instagram under the hashtag #NoSafeSpaceForJewHate.
We are on the Deputy Board. together with our colleagues at the Community Security Trust and the Jewish Leadership Council, have also written letters to Facebook (which has Instagram) and Twitter demanding answers as to why they failed to act. During the explosion, not only was this platform not a safe place for Jews, but their delayed actions allowed many people, including young people, to see these posts.
We have made countless representations to these social media companies and provided advice on how to improve their systems, but shows like this show that not enough has been done.
This is not a big question from the two most significant companies in the world that they ensure that Jews, Blacks, Muslims, Gypsies, Romans, Travelers or other users are not confronted with a series of racist harassments when they enter. Twitter and Facebook must act now to ensure this is never repeated.
is the president of the British Jewish Representative Council.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of JTA or its parent company, 70 Faces Media.
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