As we have said time and time again, Twitter has become an easy and wide-ranging platform for those who promote hate, misogyny and violence to use. Our report which was published with Teesside University, shows the way that Far Right groups like the English Defence League and others realised that the internet and social media in particular was an easy tool to use to promote their hate.
We have been campaigning for over two years for Twitter to acknowledge that it had to make reporting in procedures easier and to have access points for respected third-party reporting projects where direct access to Twitter could be ensured on specific cases where there were serious threats of violence and hate. When we launched the TELL MAMA project two years ago, Twitter was effectively, an open platform where people were posting the most virulent forms of hate and where anti-Muslim prejudice was rife. Imran Awan from Birmingham City University just recently made the case that he believed that Twitter had become the ‘Wild Wild West’ for those who promote hate and there are many who work in hate crime work who will still agree with him.
So, sadly, it came as no surprise that Stan Collymore became the latest victim of racism and hate through Twitter. Stan retweeted the racist comments to his wider audience and many of the tweets cannot be evidenced since, thankfully, those promoting the racism were suspended. Some of the material targeted at Stan Collymore was so shocking that it led to a barrage of hate tweets against the perpetrators which made them stop in their tracks. Whilst the latter shows that racism is not acceptable in our communities, it nonetheless re-enforces the fact that Twitter needs to think carefully about its brand which is being tarnished by groups like the English Defence League and many other hate promoting groups. Whilst we have hundreds of ticket copies evidencing that we have reported some of the most pernicious hate accounts, they sadly remain active. Time will only tell whether Twitter takes the mantle in ensuring that accounts which consistently promote hate are closed. If they are not, it is a matter of time before legal action is taken against the social media platform. (Some of the tweets targeted at Stan Collymore, are shown below).