NEW YORK (VINnews) — Some Twitter users have decided to stage a 48-hour boycott of the platform over its handling of a stream of anti-Semitic comments that were posted on British rapper Wiley’s social media accounts. The users claim that Twitter is “too slow in removing offensive material.”
“For too long, social media has been a safe space for those who peddle hatred and prejudice. Free speech is an essential cornerstone of any civilized society, but when it is used to incite hatred and violence against others, social-media companies have a responsibility to act and must do so without delay,” said the Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom, Ephraim Mirvis, in a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. “Your inaction amounts to complicity.”
While the complaints against Twitter are clearly justified, as demonstrated when Wiley tried to move his offensive comments to Facebook, they were immediately removed, it is questionable whether this feeble attempt at a boycott is the right way to respond. Harry Truman is quoted as saying about politics that “if you can’t stand the heat, stay out the kitchen.” The same analogy could be said about Twitter and other hate-bearing media. The best boycott would be if people summarily suspended their accounts and left the platform.
If enough people could be found who would transfer their media activity to other emerging platforms like Parler, and would stress that they were doing so because of Twitter’s antisemitic slant, this might have some effect on Twitter’s monitoring of racial hate speech.
The concept of a 48-hour boycott defeats the purpose because it causes no real damage to Twitter and only proves that people are so attached to their Twitter accounts that they cannot bear to part with them for more than 48 hours.
Ultimately boycotts are a double-edged sword. If they are effective they can cause companies to change their attitudes but if they do not work they can lead to even more apathy and indifference on the part of those who care more about the bottom line than about how they earn their profits.
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