On December 18, Twitter announced “new rules” against incitement to hatred and violence. But as some feared, it seems to apply different rules depending on the ideology of the user.
What Twitter ensured in its new rules of December 18
In its statement last week on the official Twitter blog, the US company, based in San Francisco, included the following paragraph:
Content that glorifies violence or the perpetrators of a violent act. This includes celebrating any violent act in a manner that may inspire others to replicate it or any violence where people were targeted because of their membership in a protected group. We will require offending Tweets to be removed and repeated violations will result in permanent suspension.
That same day it was reported that Twitter had begun to suspend accounts of the extreme right, but among the various news about the application of the new rules did not include any suspension of accounts of the far-left, despite being also a margin of political scene in the one that abounds with hate messages and incitement to violence. The new norms do not seem to apply to the radical islamist groups either.
The surprising tolerance of Twitter with anti-Semitic terrorists
As an example, the jihadist group Hamas keeps its accounts active in Arabic and in English, despite its anti-Semitic messages, despite being condemned by the UN for calling for the destruction of Israel and despite appearing on the list of groups declared terrorists by the US Secretary of State for no less than 20 years. This is especially serious, if we take into account that in its communication last week Twitter said:
Accounts that affiliate with organizations that use or promote violence against civilians to further their causes. Groups included in this policy will be those that identify as such or engage in activity — both on and off the platform — that promotes violence. This policy does not apply to military or government entities and we will consider exceptions for groups that are currently engaging in (or have engaged in) peaceful resolution.
The part that I indicated in bold means that Twitter is also investigating content not published on that platform. to close accounts that incite violence. However, Hamas accounts remain active after being reported by numerous users. And not only that: to some twitter users, Twitter even show Hamas accounts as suggested accounts.
Another example of Twitter’s tolerance for that jihadist group occurred on December 23: Hamas published an Israeli flag replacing the Star of David with a swastika. The message provoked indignation among many users, because national-socialism was a deeply anti-Semitic ideology that provoked a colossal genocide against the Jews. Many users have reported that message, but have been ignored by Twitter. The only thing that Twitter has done is to block it in Germany, because in that country the swastika is a forbidden symbol.
Other terrorist groups keep their Twitter accounts active
It might seem that Hamas accounts are an isolated case, but it is not so. The FARC, Hezbollah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the PFLP-General Command and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, are also active on Twitter, to name a few more examples of organizations considered terrorist by the US, the country where that social network is based. We are no longer talking about accounts that simply foment hatred against certain social groups: they are criminal organizations that have committed murders, in some cases thousands and for decades.
Twitter justifies a christianphobic message by the ‘context’
Jihadist terrorism is not the only one that benefits from the tolerance of Twitter. On December 24, the Spanish communist coalition Izquierda Unida published a tweet with a burning Christmas tree, a christianphobic message that has provoked outrage among many twitterers and that has appeared in various Spanish media. That incitement to hatred was reported by many users, and again Twitter ignored the complaints. In this case, the Californian company has appealed to the “context” to justify its permissiveness with a clearly violent message. But the reality is that the tweet in question was an isolated message. The account that published it only began to add other messages to the same thread, in a cynical attempt to justify it, two days after its publication and after the message was already reported by many users. Everything seems to indicate that Twitter Spain provided Izquierda Unida with an “escape route” to bypass its own rules, since the second message of that thread was published only two hours before Twitter began to respond to the reports received.
Animate to sabotage rail lines is free if you are an anarchist
On December 19, in reference to what he described as “the great Twitter purge,” the American digital newspaper Breibart denounced that “far-left groups that are tied to violent activism remain on the platform.” An example is the anarchist website It’s Going On, which maintains its account after publishing appeals to sabotage rail lines in various parts of the United States. The tolerance of Twitter with leftist extremism contrasts with its firmness against right-wing extremism: accounts of the so-called American “alt-right” have been suspended quickly and permanently, without giving an opportunity to present explanations and without Twitter appealing to “contexts.”
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