The tweet in question was from the 17th October 2016 in which it called someone a “filthy jew bitch”.
When the MP asked Twitter’s Vice President of Public Policy and Communications Sinead McSweeney why the tweet was still on the platform she replied:
“I don’t know the answer to that question.”
Clearly exasperated, the Labour MP then responded:
“I’m kinda wondering what it is we have to do here. We sat in this committee and raised a clearly vile anti-Semitic tweet and it is still there. You’ve accepted that it was unacceptable but it still there. What is it that we have to do to get you to take it down?”
The terse exchange came at the end of a particularly gruelling line of questioning from the chair of the Commons Home Affairs Committee towards Twitter over the way it handles hate crime on its platform and in particular abuse being directed towards politicians.
The Twitter exec then claimed that Twitter was taking a proactive approach with politicians saying that if it saw someone who was getting a notable amount of abuse it would reach out to them and help them protect themselves.
Putting that system to the test Ms Cooper then asked:
“If I sat and did a search on Twitter with Diane [Abbott] are you saying to me that I would not find a huge series of Twitter abuse at Diane because you’ve got these systems in place?”
To which Ms McSweeney responded: “No, right now I can’t say what you would find at this this minute. If you’re cleaning a street, you can clean a street every morning but you can’t then guarantee that it’s going to be clean at 10am.”
The exchange was part of a Home Affairs Select Committee evidence sessio in which MPs were questioning representatives from Google, Twitter and Facebook about what they have done in the last 12 months to tackle the rise of hate speech and hate crimes on their platforms.
Throughout the exchange it became apparent that one of the clearest issues was around scale.
While Facebook’s Director of Public Policy Simon Milner was able to confirm that it would have over 20,000 people hunting for hate crimes on its platform by 2018, Twitter has a global workforce of just 3,500 dealing with over 300 million users and 500 million tweets every single day.
Google on the other hand has in the last 12 months decided to focus on using machine learning to crack down on this content, claiming in a blog post earlier this month that its current computer systems were actually doing the equivalent work of 180,000 people working 40 hour days.
Despite this claim Ms Cooper then raised another specific incident involving a video by the banned group National Action that was found on YouTube.
The Labour MP described how it took almost 8 months for the video to finally be taken down despite her having to reach out to the CEO of YouTube and then finally the Senior Vice President of Google itself.
Frustrated, she again asked Google’s Vice President of Public Policy in Europe Dr Nicklas Berlid Lundblad why it took so long for the content to be taken down.
Dr Lundblad said that her example was “disappointing” but that they’re now removing content like this faster than ever and that Google hopes that increased use of machines will close the gaps.