Tortoise news website has apologised after publishing a cartoon on social media showing Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg as a parasite controlling the world.
The cartoon reportedly referenced a story about a Facebook whistleblower who testified in the United States Senate last week, and was shared to Tortoise’s 19,000 followers on Instagram.
The cartoon, which showed Mr Zuckerberg as a parasite with octopus-like tentacles engulfing the planet, was captioned: “This parasite can now be found the world over! It is ever mutating to control more and more of our cognitive functions.”
Tortoise media, which was launched in 2019 by former BBC News director James Harding, describes itself as “slower, wiser news without all the noise.”
“We fully accept that the cartoons should not have appeared and apologise for the hurt they have caused. We are removing them immediately from the Tortoise website and social media,” Tortoise said in a statement, adding that the website recognised the “unintended echoes of antisemitic visual tropes” in the image.
The cartoonist, Edith Pritchett, also apologised, saying that it had not occurred to her that the cartoon could have caused offence in that way, but that “it should have done and I am extremely sorry to have caused such hurt.”
A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “This appalling cartoon plays into age-old antisemitic tropes of parasitism, global power and media control. We welcome Tortoise’s prompt removal of the cartoon and apology, but the real question is how a media organisation led by some of the country’s leading journalists could design and approve such an image. The publication of this cartoon demonstrates that insensitivity and ignorance about the mutations and manifestations of antisemitism remain rampant in the media industry and how much more work there is to do to educate the most influential people in our society.”
Campaign Against Antisemitism monitors traditional media and regularly holds outlets to account. If members of the public are concerned about reportage in the media, they should contact us at [email protected].