[CONTENT WARNING: RACISM, HATE SPEECH, USE OF N-WORD]
Over the last several months, new accounts (and a few that were dormant) began a campaign of trolling using hate speech. We’ve seen racist conversations in Twitter Spaces being promoted out in the open and one of our Writers and Editors of Color Spaces for our “The Case for the 1619 Project” was infiltrated by a clown spouting the n-word over and over again. Clearly, an already out-of-control problem, and despite the claimed efforts of Twitter Safety, a growing one.
As if the issue of extremists and hatemongers wasn’t bad enough, Twitter has recently taken to elevating hate speech. Due to Twitter’s inaction, many have commented on the reality that far-right bigotry and extremism are set to become mainstream again. Not to say that it hasn’t been mainstream. I mean, Tucker Carlson with his millions of viewers every night, and others like him, are promoting the racist white replacement conspiracy theory among other cooky baseless claims of schemes by those who don’t think like them.
So here we are. In the battle against the normalization of hate and our enemies are well-armed.
The most recent incident that I witnessed started with a tweet referring to a Black woman as a ni××er. A highly offensive tweet. Several of my friends and other users claimed they reported the tweet and received emails from Twitter saying the account didn’t violate their policies. Knowing Twitter least appears to disallow such language, I stopped what I was doing and reported the tweet. Within a couple of hours, I received the same email seen in so many screenshots with Twitter saying the account “hasn’t broken our safety policies.”
To be clear, Twitter’s safety policy states, “You may not promote violence against, threaten, or harass other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, caste, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease.”
Yet, here we are.
With all of Twitter’s issues revolving around allowing the promotion of hate and extremism, once Jack Dorsey left, many expected a shift to the political right and the return of the far-right language of bigotry. I guess users called that one.
Listen, we all know what happens when extremist language goes unchecked. We saw it when shooters began executing dozens of non-white people all over the country along with the constant harassment and assault of Black people and people of color. We’ve also seen it with the rise in attacks on the Asian community. It’s a never-ending cycle because people are far too complacent. We can ill afford any more hand-wringing over the issue.
It’s time to take calling it out seriously. No longer should your racist uncle get away with being racist for the sake of keeping the peace at home. That same racist uncle goes online and spreads hate infecting others using hyperbole and language that evokes emotion. The impact a single user has these days is enormous. Particularly, on Facebook and Twitter along with other not-so-mainstream far-right apps funded by elitist billionaires.
Now, with Twitter apparently taking the approach of citing hate speech as not violating their “safety policies,” can we expect yet another rise in hate crimes? It would appear that way. Donald Trump inciting people to kill, mail bombs, and physically and verbally attack people in public using the same platform: Twitter. They didn’t stop him until the insurrection. Until there was an attack on our government in an attempt to overthrow it.
Twitter’s stance is certainly a setback for what is considered a privately-owned soapbox where many Black people and people of color express their ideas to move society forward.
The social media giant isn’t only signaling to racists that throwing the n-word around is cool again, they’re also letting us know that it’s acceptable for bigots to sling hateful language at anyone they disagree with. At us. By not removing the language, they are validating it and sending a message to other racists saying it’s okay to come back to the platform. And they have, in droves. A continuation of such a policy moving forward would make Twitter no safer than Parler or Gab for Black people and people of color.
In other words, and despite all hope, it has become clear that Twitter will never be a safe place for non-white people. White supremacists are conducting what appear to be coordinated attacks that began on or about November 20th and continue unabated today. New leadership at Twitter seems to be making short work of reversing safety policies that began during its infancy of removing hate speech. Now, we’re back to the time when Twitter was barely usable and struggled to stay afloat largely because of the unfettered hate.
As for Twitter taking down the offending tweet after days of complaints, there are many others I reported to Twitter Safety that are still up. Some of them can be found here, here, here, and here. The delays on Twitter’s behalf indicate that they will allow these racist tweets to stay on the platform because it drives traffic and interaction. In other words, it seems as though they are stealing a page from Facebook’s playbook.
At the end of the day, they don’t care about you and me. They care only about the bottom line and what makes them money. Promoting controversy, extremism, and hate generate traffic and in return increases the value of their ad dollars. That’s what matters more than anything else in an unfettered capitalist society. Everything is done for a profit with no regard for the damage they’re doing both psychologically and environmentally.
It is the power of white supremacy in the Americas.