Tackling hatred

The JC Leader, 30th July 2020

July 30, 2020 09:46

On Friday night, actress Tracy-Ann Oberman and activist Saul Freeman spoke on the phone about the latest example of Jew hate on Twitter.

Within 48 hours, the idea they discussed — a 48 hour walkout from Twitter and Instagram in protest at their refusal to take serious action against antisemitic posts — had become a global phenomenon which may well mark a turning point in the issue.

Thanks to the efforts of a small group of their contacts, the hashtag they came up with to support the protest, #NoSafeSpaceForJewHate, had become the top trending hashtag on Twitter. On Monday, tens of thousands of people, Jews and non-Jews alike, left the site for two days.

Whatever happens next, this is a story of how in our modern online world, individuals are empowered in ways unimaginable just a decade ago. The downside of this is that the likes of Wiley have a platform from which they can spout bigotry and incitement to millions.

But by suggesting one simple gesture, Ms Oberman and Mr Freeman created a movement which drew in the prime minister, home secretary, politicians, writers and a broad mass of tweeters.

The issue of online hate was pushed to the top of the news agenda, showing that silence can be more powerful than the most vocal protest. Now comes the hard part.

Twitter has shown itself unable — or perhaps more accurately unwilling — to police itself to date. If that continues, it is clear that there is governmental support for legislation. The tide seems to be turning, in no small way thanks to Ms Oberman and Mr Freeman.

July 30, 2020 09:46

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