PHOTOS + VIDEO: Twitter is Toxic — Activists Demand White Supremacists Poisoning the Platform be Banned from #JacksToxicTwitter at SF HQ
Protest outside Twitter HQ demands the company ban white supremacists with a dozen of activists and 110,000 petition signatures
SAN FRANCISCO — Today, a new Free Press report found that harassment remains endemic on Twitter and a dozen activists representing Change the Terms (CTT), a coalition of 55+ civil rights organizations, planted caution cones around Twitter’s corporate headquarters in protest of the social network’s toxicity and failures to ban white supremacists on the platform. Civil rights leaders have labeled Twitter as toxic, poisoned by white supremacists who use the platform to indoctrinate and organize hateful activities that threaten communities of color.
This morning, protesters held signs with enlarged tweets posted by prominent white supremacists who still have profiles on the platform. Activists also delivered the CTT petition, signed by 110,000 people, demanding that the platform ban white supremacists. Allied organizations driving the petition include Color of Change, MediaJustice, Free Press, Daily Kos, MPower Change, UltraViolet, and CREDO Action.
PHOTOS + VIDEO: https://www.flickr.com/photos/freepress/albums/72157711836708958
The campaign and event were organized by Change the Terms, a coalition that has pushed Twitter and other tech companies to adopt model policies to curb online hate for over a year. The new Free Press report found that Twitter “leadership has fallen very short in making its site safe for its users.” Though Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey committed to a civil rights audit of the platform during congressional testimony a year ago, the company has taken no action to initiate it. The company did not respond to leaders from Charlottesville, VA, who joined Change the Terms in September to demand Twitter remove white supremacists from the platform on the anniversary of the deadly Unite the Right rally organized on Twitter.
“Twitter has told its shareholders that it prioritizes healthy conversation, but the platform has become toxic because CEO Jack Dorsey refuses to ban the white supremacists who are poisoning conversations, weaponizing the platform against our communities and putting our lives in danger. Our analysis shows he’s more interested in paying lip service to civil rights than enacting real change,” said Nilda Muhr, campaign manager at Free Press, a founding member of Change the Terms. “Twitter’s toxicity is not victimless, and it is not bloodless. People in our communities are literally dying at the hands of white supremacists who broadcast and organize hate on Twitter. Jack’s toxic Twitter will continue to be a place where divisiveness and danger thrive as long as white supremacists are welcomed.
“Twitter’s decision to ban political ads — but not the white supremacists and white nationalists amplifying bigotry and hatred — says everything you need to know about its priorities,” said Jade Magnus Ogunnaike, senior campaign director at Color Of Change. “Twitter acknowledges its platform can be used for harm, but doesn’t remove the number one threat to Black people and other marginalized communities. Let’s be clear: Anything short of taking responsibility for the content on the platform will be an insufficient response by Twitter to the threats facing our communities.”
“We’re here today because Twitter, under the direction of Jack Dorsey, remains complicit in the spread of white nationalist propaganda and agendas that would see communities of color and religious minorities dead,” said Erin Shields, national field organizer for internet rights at MediaJustice. “We’re here today because we know what’s shared online, including speech from elected officials, has deeply felt consequences offline in our communities. And we’re here today because communities of color won’t remain silent about Twitter profiting from white supremacy in this political moment. Over 110,000 people are demanding Jack clean up the toxicity at Twitter and ban white supremacists and their violent speech from the platform.”
“We live in a world where information and ideas travel faster than we ever imagined. Social media is not just a platform, it is a community of real people with real ideas that have an impact on our daily lives. Twitter refusing to take real action to regulate online hate speech that we know incites violence is beyond irresponsible. It is long past time for Twitter to step up and stop giving violent racists a megaphone and platform for hate,” said Jelani Drew, campaign manager at CREDO Action.
Since the launch of Change the Terms in October 2018, members of the coalition have been in communication with social media platforms — including Twitter — about strengthening their policies and practices to curb hateful activity online. Twitter has undertaken the following changes: (1) prohibited dehumanizing language and content that misgenders trans people; (2) committed to examine a group’s online and offline activities to determine if they promote violence; (3) implemented multi-level enforcement measures; and (4) decided to ban all political advertising to address misinformation. The report makes clear that Twitter is still far from adopting the full set of recommended corporate policies, specifically in the areas of enforcement, transparency, evaluation and governance.
A full analysis of Twitter’s steps to change their policies and practices to combat hateful activity, and where they fall short, can be found here. The complete Change the Terms model policies can be found here: https://www.changetheterms.org/terms. Change the Terms does not support government-dictated content moderation.
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Change the Terms is a coalition calling on technology companies to institute and enforce service agreement prohibitions on hateful activities to protect public safety and respect diverse voices. The coalition includes more than 50 civil rights, human rights, technology policy and consumer protection organizations dedicated to encouraging internet companies, social media sites, payment processors and chat services to commit to fair, effective and transparent rules and practices for content moderation.