One year after his antisemitic social media rampage, why on earth is Wiley back on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube?
Barely one year after his antisemitic social media rampage, Wiley has been accepted back on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
On 24th July 2020, the rapper Richard Kylea Cowie, who is known as Wiley, spent days engaged in an escalating rant on social media against Jews. After likening Jews to the Ku Klux Klan and claiming that Jews had cheated him and were “snakes”, Wiley tweeted that Jews should “hold some corn”, a slang expression meaning that they should be shot. He added: “Jewish community you deserve it”. He then also called on “black people” to go to “war” with Jews.
Wiley repeatedly evoked conspiracy theories that Jews were responsible for the slave trade and that modern-day Jews are in fact imposters who usurped black people — a conspiracy theory that has incited acts of terrorism against Jews, such as a shooting in Jersey City and a stabbing attack in Monsey, NY during the festival of Chanukah last December.
In the days that followed, Wiley continued to rail against Jews on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. Following discussions with Campaign Against Antisemitism, a major 48-hour boycott of Twitter and Instagram in which we participated, and our projection of antisemitic tweets onto Twitter’s London headquarters, which then went viral, Twitter, Facebook (which owns Instagram), Google (which owns YouTube) and TikTok agreed to remove Wiley from their platforms, depriving him of access to his nearly one million social media followers.
However, it appears that all is forgiven as Wiley is once again active on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube in what is just the latest example of social media platforms not taking antisemitism seriously.
A few weeks ago, newly returned to Twitter, Wiley tweeted: “In all my years on earth I realised everyone wants you to care about their stuff like Holocaust etc but not one of them give a f*** about the enslavement and f***ery of black people so it’s hard for me to care for them knowing they don’t care for us #YaGetIt #JusSayin”
Recently, we published a major report that shows how Twitter fails to implement consistently its own policies on hate. The report showed how Twitter appointed Campaign Against Antisemitism as a partner to monitor anti-Jewish racism on its platform and promised regular meetings, only to cease those meetings and ignore offers of antisemitism training after we began alerting the company to the inconsistent application of its policies by personnel.
Not only were phrases like “f*** the Jews” not considered to breach Twitter’s rules, but other phrases such as “Hitler was right” were sometimes permitted and sometimes removed, without any form of coherent reasoning. Moreover, one of the few areas where Twitter has in the past said that it would take action is over Holocaust denial, pledging to remove “attempts to deny or diminish” violent events such as the Shoah. Our report, however, shows that Twitter personnel repeatedly raised no objection to phrases such as “#Holohoax” and other, more elaborate tweets of Holocaust denial.
A separate study revealed that 90% of antisemitic social media posts remain on Facebook and Twitter even after being reported. The Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) conducted the study of 714 antisemitic posts across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok. Its research found that 84% of antisemitic posts remained, with 90% remaining on Facebook and Twitter specifically. The findings from the CCDH noted that in particular, the social media giants’ response to tackling racist conspiracy theories was particularly disappointing. They ignored 89% of antisemitic conspiracy theories and addressed only 5% that blamed Jewish people for the COVID-19 pandemic. Only one in 20 posts that attacked Jewish people directly were removed. In situations where a post had clear links to violence or neo-Nazism, 30% of posts were removed.
Recently, Campaign Against Antisemitism called on the New World Fest music festival to drop the unrepentant antisemite Wiley from its line-up. The grime artist was due to appear at the festival last weekend, however, it was reported that he did not show up.
At the time of Wiley’s original antisemitic tirade, Campaign Against Antisemitism immediately reported Wiley to the Metropolitan Police Service, but in September the police force confirmed to us that Wiley was not in the UK at the time of his antisemitic tirade. Under Home Office rules, that means that the Metropolitan Police must give primacy to police in the jurisdiction where Wiley was at the time. Lawyers acting for Campaign Against Antisemitism have filed a criminal complaint with the Public Prosecution Service in the Netherlands, which is where grime artist Wiley was located when he launched his tirade against Jews.
A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “One year after his antisemitic social media rampage, why on earth is Wiley back on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube? Not only have social media companies abjectly failed to take antisemitism on their platforms seriously, as evidenced by our recent report and other findings, but to permit Wiley back on their networks despite their pledges barely a year ago adds insult to injury. They have no shame.”
Campaign Against Antisemitism has long called for tougher regulations on social media sites and that social networks proactively search for and remove hate speech from their platforms. We also continue to make representations to the Government on this matter.