August 14, 2017
Twitter Attacked for Hate Speech
One of the most common knocks against social media powerhouse, Twitter, is the tone of the “conversations” on the app. People can get way out of line. Twitter has cost people jobs, careers, relationships … and, some have said, even more. The company has vowed to go after those who use the platform for hate speech, terrorism, and a host of other angry content.
Many have said their intentions are not nearly enough, and the actions are nowhere near adequate to turn the tide on the reputation the platform is getting for allowing – if not encouraging – “hateful” tweets.
Some in the public sphere have made a point to take Twitter to task. Pop culture figures have sworn off the platform, and late night comedy hosts have entire bits centered around celebrities simply reading hateful things aimed at them.
Now, another public figure is taking the company to task in a very public way. German-Israeli comedian Shahak Shapira showed up at Twitter’s German offices with a can of washable spray paint and a mission. He started spray painting what he claims are real “mean tweets” on the ground in front of the building.
Shapira says his goal is to critique Twitter for failing to respond to complaints about “vitriolic comments.” He’s been collecting digital nastygrams from users on Twitter and Facebook. Shapira says he routinely complains to both platforms, but only one – Facebook – was responding in a timely manner. Facebook has responded to most of the reports and removed nearly all of them. Meanwhile, Twitter – according to Shapira – only managed to delete 9 out of 300 reported tweets.
In an attempt to get the company’s attention, Shapira made stencils of many of the tweets and painted them on the Twitter sidewalks using washable spray chalk. Speaking to the media about his stunt, Shapira said, “Twitter has to look at the messages they ignore so much… The statements I reported weren’t just plain insults or jokes, but absolutely serious threats of violence.”
By midmorning the next day, the messages had been washed away, but not before the comedian – and many others – had documented the tweets and posted them online. So far, there’s been no response from Twitter. Asked by the media if he’s satisfied to have made his point, Shapira says he’s not certain. He may take “further action” if he feels Twitter is still failing to deal with the racist and violent rhetoric on its social platform.
When asked about the controversial hate speech law being discussed in Germany, Shapira says he’s hoping something makes a positive difference in online communication.
Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5WPR and one of the most well-respected Public Relations professionals in the United States. Ronn is the author of "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations."View more posts from this author