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Calls for Twitter to act as Asians targeted by trolls

Hamza Choudhury  (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Hamza Choudhury (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)


TWITTER has been urged by campaigners to do more to remove racist messages more quickly and report abusive trolls to police.

Eastern Eye found a number of offensive tweets about Asians including “P*** bas***d” posted in May 2018 and “P*** PIGs will be PIG”.

Other vile abuse included a caption above a picture of a woman which read “Better than this popadom looking curry muncher”, and a message referring to Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai as a “ Paid P**i parrot.” The tweets have since been reported.

It comes after Leicester City Football Club reported racial abuse aimed at Hamza Choudhury on social media to the police last week. The jibes were sparked by the England under-21 midfielder being booked for a late tackle on Mohamed Salah in Liverpool’s 2-1 win.

A report by the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) has warned that sharing a tweet can increase the abuser’s popularity online. It also found that US neo-Nazi groups have urged supporters to target public figures in a bid to widen their exposure.

Imran Ahmed, CEO of the CCDH, told Eastern Eye: “Social media companies should tackle racism on their platforms faster and much more effectively, but their business models are driven by “time spent” online. As such, they benefit from controversy and arguments, which inevitably draw attention, activity and therefore advertising revenues.”

“Given the tech giants’s failure to take effective action, social media users must use their power to take a stand against hate,” Ahmed added.

“By [users] not reacting to abusive messages, blocking the trolls that send them, and taking care of their own mental well-being by taking a time out if necessary, we can limit the impact of trolling.

“In cases of unlawful posts, users should record them with a screenshot, report them to the platform, and, if the abuse is really bad, contact the police.

“They can also contact the CCDH and other anti-hate or mental health charities for further advice and support.”

CCDH’s report has been backed by a number of celebrities and politicians who have pledged to refuse to reveal the abusive messages they receive.

The campaign, which is supported by London mayor Sadiq Khan and Match of The Day host Gary Lineker among others, calls on social media users to mute, block and report offensive comments.

Fiyaz Mughal, director of Faith Matters and the Tell MAMA project which monitors anti-Muslim abuse, said: “Twitter has changed considerably since 2011, when Tell MAMA started monitoring anti-Muslim hate in the UK. Then it was the wild west of social media platforms with nothing removed, not even death threats against Jews and Muslims.

“Yet, Twitter still has to do more. For example, it needs to store the data of perpetrators for at least a year, something that it does not do, if law enforcement or civil claimants need it to make their case.”

Mughal added: “Complaint reviewers do not have a wider contextual understanding of hateful terms. Twitter needs far more artificial intelligence involved on its platform to remove some of the appalling racist hate that is on there.

“It cannot stop people opening up new Twitter accounts even when they are kicked off the platform.”

Aston Villa defender Neil Taylor, one of two British-Asian players in the Premier League along with Choudhury, stopped using social media in 2016.

He has called for social media firms to verify accounts with users’ passports to allow companies to block abusers and for police to trace them more quickly.

Taylor said: “With social media and these platforms you are giving idiots a platform to speak out on stuff that they shouldn’t be speaking out on.

“I don’t know what happened to the old phrase ‘if you’ve got nothing nice to say don’t say anything at all’. Too many people use computer screens to hide behind and say nasty stuff.

“The corporations do not do enough, they know the problems are there but [they are] still interested in the traffic and the amount of people coming through the website instead of looking after the people that are on there.

“It’s quite simple – you should have to put your details like your passport or some ID when you register for profiles.”

Football authorities in the UK met Twitter bosses in September to discuss the racist abuse of players on the social media platform.

In a joint statement, the Premier League, the English Football League and the Football Association said: “The meeting was productive and positive, and gave both the football authorities and Twitter an opportunity to examine some of the specific issues around this unacceptable behaviour both online and offline.

“All parties agreed to take these constructive discussions forward.”

Twitter had earlier reported it had taken action against 700 reported cases of abuse or hateful conduct. It has also launched a new filter tool which can hide spam and abusive messages sent via the platform’s direct messages feature.