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Hmmm: Twitter finally “actioned” Farrakhan tweet about Jewish “termites” after publishing new rules

Ed MorrisseyPosted at 4:01 pm on July 9, 2019

“Actioned” is the verb CNN reporter Oliver Darcy uses, perhaps to emphasize just how gingerly Twitter still treats Louis Farrakhan. The platform rolled out new rules earlier today barring derogatory tweets against religious groups, in part to deal with situations like Farrakhan’s repeated insults to Jews. It now belongs in the “hateful conduct” category, but there’s a kind of grandfathering that will be applied first:

We create our rules to keep people safe on Twitter, and they continuously evolve to reflect the realities of the world we operate within. Our primary focus is on addressing the risks of offline harm, and research* shows that dehumanizing language increases that risk. As a result, after months of conversations and feedback from the public, external experts and our own teams, we’re expanding our rules against hateful conduct to include language that dehumanizes others on the basis of religion.  …

If reported, Tweets that break this rule sent before today will need to be deleted, but will not directly result in any account suspensions because they were Tweeted before the rule was set.

Darcy drew the obvious conclusion immediately:

I imagine this rule will affect anti-Semitic content that has been posted by @LouisFarrakhan, such as comparing the Jewish people to termites. Twitter says if dehumanizing tweets about religious groups are reported to it now, the company will require the user to delete them.

— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) July 9, 2019

And voila, just a few minutes later:

Update: It appears Twitter has actioned @LouisFarrakhan's tweet comparing Jewish people to termites. When trying to visit the URL, an error message now reads, "Sorry, you are not authorized to see this status." The tweet was online just 20 minutes ago.

— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) July 9, 2019

Hmmm. One might think that Twitter has belatedly realized how hypocritical it has looked for people to get suspended and outright banned for writing harmless digs like “learn to code” while Farrakhan actively uses their platform to spew hate. One might think that, except that the “termite” tweet appeared initially to be the only one that had been “actioned.” Only a while later did this one go down the memory hole with it:

Thoroughly and completely unmasking the Satanic Jew and the Synagogue of Satan.

Full Video:

— MINISTER FARRAKHAN (@LouisFarrakhan) June 7, 2018

Jake Tapper pointed that one out two days ago:

So odd to see various accounts suspended for relatively minor offenses when anti-Semitic bilge like this continues to exist on this website.

— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) July 7, 2019

That prompted the Nation of Islam social media team to accuse Tapper of “insanity”:

Mr. Tapper: Your hatred for The Honorable Minister @LouisFarrakhan has reached the point of insanity.

It has already been documented by @Twitter @TwitterSafety that this tweet does not violate their terms of service.

— Team Farrakhan (@TeamFarrakhan) July 7, 2019

Did they, though? Did Twitter really certify that “Satanic Jew” and “Synagogue of Satan” positively passed their no-hate-speech tests? The Magic 8-Ball says … doubtful. Not even Twitter is that cynical. I suspect that what actually happened is that Twitter and their “safety” team studiously ignored complaints about Farrakhan for as long as they figured they could get away with it, afraid that any enforcement of speech standards on the Nation of Islam leader would lead to accusations of racism and Islamophobia against Jack Dorsey and his “safety” team.

Not today, however, and shortly after that, Twitter locked Farrakhan out of his account. For now, anyway:

Twitter says @LouisFarrakhan's 2018 tweet comparing Jewish people to termites violates its new rules against the dehumanization of religious groups and must be deleted. His account will be locked until the tweet is removed. My story here:

— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) July 9, 2019

This incremental enforcement is almost as laughable as their previous pusillanimity, however. Everyone knows what Farrakhan is — he’s a bigot and a hatemonger, only one with some political allies. It’s easy for Dorsey to kick other people off his platform for writing that “men are not women” and claiming it to be hate speech, but kicking Farrakhan off will cost him some allies even though Farrakhan has a track record of actual hate speech that still exists in Twitter’s archives. Instead, Dorsey and his team will make everyone go through the motions of reporting each offensive tweet, and it remains to be seen how many Twitter’s “safety” team will have to suppress before they actually revoke Farrakhan’s account for good.

For the record, all of this is nonsense. Having Farrakhan publicly display his bigotry has value in itself, as does identifying all those who support it. Twitter has spent the last few years setting up arbitrary and changing standards of usage and encouraging a snitch society to enforce it, which has ruined the experience for users who could always control their own experience anyway. The platform has become a garbage dump in which the least amount of engagement is usually the best policy. That’ll be true long after Farrakhan’s gone, because Twitter’s hypocrisy on speech codes and enforcement will remain regardless.

Tags: hate speech Jack Dorsey Jake Tapper Louis Farrakhan Twitter