New York Times Editor Abandons Twitter Over Anti-Semitism
June 8, 2016

At some point, something has to give. The New York Times Washington Editor has announced on Twitter that he is leaving the social media site in favor of Facebook, due entirely to Twitter's weak handling of anti-Semitic threats to reporters and others. Weisman wrote a column last month about the anti-Semitic threats he has received on Twitter from Trump supporters. Note that Weisman's name on Twitter has three parentheses around it -- that itself is a Twitter response to anti-Semitic targeting of Jews on Twitter.

He then links to a couple of sample tweets. Many C&L readers will have seen similar. The tweets Jonathan Weisman linked have, however, since been removed. If you go on Twitter and look up the K-word for Jewish people, you will find hundreds of examples. Hundreds. And many of those include threats of violence including "ovens," "gassing," and "camps."

Weisman is not alone in his Twitter experience, nor are such attacks reserved for those who are Democrats or liberals. Conservative Washington Post columnist Evan Seigfried wrote a column yesterday entitled

Twitter forbids threats. But it isn’t stopping every anti-Semitic Trump fan.

Seigfried also provides examples of anti-Semitic threats from various Twitter accounts and Twitter's lackluster response unless told there will be a news story published about their actions. Twitter appears to be taking a pro "free speech" stand without recognizing their accountability for setting up a social network that clearly allows anonymous threats to go un-checked unless a reporter goes public. Going public can further explode the threats.

The threats and harassment are happening to many of us conservatives against Trump. Mandel, Ben Shapiro, Rick Wilson, Erick Erickson, I and many others face this hate. This is not a situation where we are like the left’s “social justice warriors,” easily offended or feeling threatened by the slightest discomfort. In fact, many of Trump’s critics who’ve been targeted by the alt-right also routinely criticize liberals for their hypersensitivity to everything. ....But an anonymous Twitter account telling you that someone is going to kill you for expressing your political opinion is a real threat. These could be followed by physical harm and violence. We take them seriously and expect others to follow suit.

The article also makes reference to Twitter's policy regarding threats:

[Editor’s note: Twitter’s official policy bans threats of violence, as well as threats on the basis of categories such as religion, national origin or ethnicity, among others. The service says it has suspended some of the accounts that attack Trump opponents and that the Anti-Defamation League is part of its Trust & Safety Council.]

Twitter may be trying to dance a fine line between allowing free expression to be at the will of the free market (and sure, anyone simply using a racial slur can be universally blocked by all who see it -- and lots of blocking to one account gets Twitter's attention, ironically.) The possibly ironic "I Stand with Hate Speech" hashtag was, for some, a plea for free speech over mere political correctness. But threats based on race are now promoted by and associated with one of the nominees of a major political party. And Hispanics, Blacks, and Jews are all being targeted because the Republican Party is nominating a racist.

Trump's candidacy has given racists on Twitter and elsewhere permission to come out of their hidey holes and express their hate. Twitter's anonymity policies give those racists who would not only threaten, but actually commit, hate crimes....cover to do just that.

One wonders if "the free market" will follow Weisman's lead and quit Twitter. One also wonders just how far an obvious racist can get in pursuit of the nation's highest office. It is a shame that a useful internet communication tool, as well as a major political party, should be taken over by violent bullies because Twitter management and the Republican establishment can't find a way to obstruct them.

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