Wiley is permanently suspended by Twitter for anti-Semitism

Wiley performs on stage during Day 2 of the South West Four Festival 2019 at Clapham Common on August 25, 2019 in London, England.Image copyright
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The Grime artist Wiley was permanently banned from Twitter, five days after posting anti-Semitic comments.

It follows a 48-hour boycott of Twitter by many users over what they said had been an unacceptable delay in handling offensive tweets.

“We regret not having moved faster,” Twitter said in a statement.

The escalation comes a day after Facebook and Instagram deleted the music star’s accounts for “repeated violations” of their rules.

Twitter said it has taken a similar step because the artist had broken his “hate behavior” policy.

The San Francisco-based company had previously suspended Wiley and made many of his previous tweets visible. But he said he had decided to make the ban permanent and delete all of his previous messages from his platform “after further consideration.”

“We deeply respect the concerns shared by the Jewish community and online security advocates,” the statement said, vowing to continue addressing anti-Semitism.

Wiley’s first tweets appeared on Friday night.

A tweet said, “I don’t care about Hitler, I care about blacks,” and he compared the Jewish community to the Ku Klux Klan.

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Media captionRapper Wiley’s Twitter account has been suspended after anti-Semitic posts.

The star, known as the “godfather of dirt”, received an MBE for music services in 2018.

But Twitter did not remove that or other tweets, nor did it issue its first temporary ban, until later in the weekend.


By Marianna Spring, journalist specialized in disinformation and social networks

The permanent suspension of rapper profiles on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter has been widely welcomed.

However, it is emblematic of the slowness to act against hateful abuse, from social networking sites. And many wonder why this took so long.

Time and again, decisive action by social media sites on racist abuse, disinformation, or hate speech occurs only once the comments have reached thousands of users.

What does it take for Twitter to act decisively on anti-Semitic abuse?

In this case, it appears to be external pressure: the movement occurs after a boycott by users.

And it also seems to depend on what the other social networking sites choose to do: Facebook decided to suspend Wiley’s accounts yesterday, and then Twitter seemed to follow suit.

With the Stop Hate for Profit campaign mounting pressure and a greater focus on how social media sites address hate speech and disinformation, the focus will intensify on the actions of Twitter, Facebook and Google in these scenarios.

The delay in Twitter action sparked a 48-hour boycott of Twitter by many users, including celebrities and MPs, starting Monday morning. Organizers said the time reflected the “48 hours of pure racial hatred” accusing Twitter of hitting Wiley.

On Tuesday, Facebook issued a ban after Wiley was caught posting abusive material on his personal page using his real name, Richard Cowie.

Twitter did the same on Wednesday, after what it said was a thorough investigation.

Despite the move, the British Jews’ Board of Deputies advocacy group said Twitter and Facebook had been slow to act, adding that “it just isn’t good enough.”

“Social media companies have not been strong or fast enough to combat racism, misogyny or homophobia,” it said in a statement.

The Anti-Semitism Campaign echoed that sentiment, writing that Twitter “has finally heard.”

“The closure of Wiley’s account is too late, but at least it is the beginning of this deeply irresponsible social network,” he said.