Facebook and Twitter write to Chief Rabbi after Wiley storm

Nick Clegg at Facebook tells Rabbi Mirvis that the social media giant wants to ‘listen and learn’  



Facebook’s Vice President of Global Affairs and Communications Nick Clegg has written to Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis to respond to his call for further action from social media companies to challenge hatred in the wake of the Wiley antisemitism storm.

The former Deputy Prime Minister wrote that he “fully” understood why in a letter sent to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, the Chief Rabbi had said he had “felt it necessary to suspend your activity on our platforms.”

Accepting that Facebook “has a responsibility to protect our users from hate and to stop our platforms from being used to spread it”, the former Liberal Democrat leader added “we agree we have more to do”.

He wrote: “I hope it might reassure you to know that tackling harmful content like this is the focus of thousands of people at this company.

“More than 35,000 people at Facebook work on safety and security today, consulting with expert external organisations such as yours to draft our policies and rules, building technology to find and remove posts that break those rules, and directly reviewing content to determine if it should be removed.

“We have invested billions of dollars in these teams and in this technology, and this year we will spend more on safety and security than the entire revenue of our company when it went public eight years ago.”

Mr Clegg then set out the steps he said his company took in situations such the one involving the Grime star Wiley – who had used the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to post a stream of antisemitic messages including claims Jews were snakes who treated black artists like slaves in the music industry.

On the Wiley case he said that “following a report from one of our anti-hate speech partners in the UK” Facebook had taken  “additional steps as he continued to break our rules, first placing him in a seven-day block on Instagram, and then on Facebook, as he shifted his activity there.

“As we continued our investigation, we became aware of additional violating posts on Instagram and a new Facebook Page set up by the same user, which was posting similar content.

“This led us to remove his accounts completely, and we have now banned him from using Facebook or Instagram.”

Mr Clegg added: “I recognise that, despite this outcome, you feel strongly that we should have moved faster when tackling complex and evolving situations like this one.

“Our teams in the UK have committed to a series of engagements with organisations that campaign against or are affected by antisemitism in Britain.

“We want to listen and learn from those who live with these issues every day, so that we may apply these lessons in ways that will make us better able to take action in future.”

In a separate letter, Dara Nasr the Managing Director of Twitter UK, repeated earlier apologies made to communal organisations over the company’s slow response to Wiley’s tweets.

Mr Nasr wrote: “We have deeply valued our opportunity to work with the Jewish community and antisemitism organisations, as well as civil society more broadly, in taking steps to combat hate online.

“With that in mind, we were extremely disappointed by the speed of our response on this occasion, and we are determined to do all we can to make Twitter safer going forwards.”


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