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LGBT+ Organisations Launch Campaign Against Twitter's 'Ineffectual' Response To Hate Speech

'It is simply unacceptable that abuse is taking place on a daily basis online'

10/01/2017 15:52

A group of LGBT+ organisations and personalities are today launching a campaign against Twitter’s handling of hate speech on its platform.

The campaign titled #no2LGBTHate hopes to raise awareness to what it calls Twitter’s “ineffectual response and inadequate action in tackling online homophobic abuse and hate speech”.

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Prominent organisations and personalities including UK Black Pride, The Peter Tatchell Foundation, British LGBT Awards, Diversity Role Models, Lord Michael Cashman, Labour’s Wes Streeting MP (North Ilford), The Women’s Equality Party and Paralympian Claire Harvey are all backing the campaign which launches at 4pm on the 1 February 2017.

The campaign comes after Linda Riley, creator of the British LGBT Awards, spoke out about the recent case of darts pundit Eric Barstow.

In a series of tweets Bristow equated convicted paedophile Barry Bennell, with being a ‘poof’.

While Bristow lost his job at Sky Sports over those remarks and others, Riley points out that Twitter’s response was to do nothing, leaving the tweets available online.

“The Eric Bristow incident highlights an urgent need for Twitter to address online attacks against the LGBT community,” Riley explains. “If Facebook can remove photographs of topless sunbathers in seconds, then it cannot be beyond the wits of Twitter to take similar action against vile, homophobic abuse.”

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“Twitter has been ineffectual and inadequate in tackling online homophobic abuse and hate speech. This must stop now. If I were verbally abused in the street I can - and would - act to call the perpetrators of such abuse to account.”

Lord Cashman said, “It is clear that homophobia is not being challenged on Twitter, and this needs to be addressed now, all kinds of abuse are unacceptable and there should be no hierarchy when dealing with such abusive language.  Most Twitter users are generous and responsible, and in deference to them as well as the rest of us this needs to be dealt with now.”

In response to a request for comment, a Twitter spokesperson said: “We prohibit conduct that targets people on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender and gender identity. In November, we announced a more direct way to report this type of conduct. This will improve our ability to process these reports, which reduces the burden on the person experiencing the abuse, and helps to strengthen a culture of collective support on Twitter.” 

In November 2016 the social media site unveiled new anti-abuse tools including a new and improved mute button which would effectively allow users to mute both users, tweets and even entire hashtags.

Writing on its website, Sinead McSweeney pointed out that “The amount of abuse, bullying, and harassment we’ve seen across the Internet has risen sharply over the past few years”

Commenting on Twitter’s part in this abuse she admitted that the company “had some challenges keeping up with and curbing abusive conduct.

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