Twitter has announced tougher rules against hatred and incitement on the platform. In a statement, the company wrote: “We believe that protection from abuse and harassment is a vital part of empowering people to freely express themselves on Twitter.”
Whereas the old rules would often require that a user threaten or promote violence before Twitter took action, the new rules state that users “may not promote violence against or directly attack or threaten other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability or disease”. The rules also prohibit the promotion of terrorism, targeted abuse of harassment, posting another user’s private information or creating multiple accounts with which to abuse others.
We welcome these changes, as well as the investment in enforcement that the company says it has made. In particular, we hope to see much firmer action against users who promote antisemitic conspiracy myths using the word “Zionists” instead of “Jews”, and the removal of terrorist sympathisers from the platform.
Much more importantly though, we hope that Twitter will become more proactively helpful in removing antisemitism from its platform. Removing antisemitic content should not fall to the victims of antisemitic Twitter trolls; there is no reason why Twitter cannot proactively seek out antisemitic content and remove it, as we have called for repeatedly.
Twitter should also be working more proactively with British police forces. Police forces often require data from social networks for use in evidence, but obtaining it can dramatically slow down or even thwart police investigations. In the worst cases, Twitter should be proactively reporting users to the police for investigation.
Ultimately, removing Twitter accounts only hampers antisemites as they can create a new account moments after having their account removed, even though they must rebuild their Twitter following. That is why, when we find that an antisemitic Twitter user is based in the UK, we will always seek prosecution, as criminal sanctions are harder to ignore than sanctions Twitter can enforce, and arrest sends a stronger message to other antisemites on Twitter than the disappearance of an account.
Though we encourage Twitter users to report to Twitter antisemitic accounts which appear to be based overseas, we believe that UK-based accounts should be reported to the police, and our volunteer team will continue to work with our supporters and the police to ensure that British antisemites on Twitter are brought to justice.