As I pointed out recently, although her Twitter account had seen the deletion of most of its contents, and had gone quiet, the presence there of pro-am motormouth Katie Hopkins had not gone away. She had been suspended - pending, it transpires, a review of her activities by those who oversee the platform. Sure enough, that suspension has come to an end, and Ms Hopkins is celebrating her return in her own inimitable manner.
But while some are merely regretting that Twitter continues in its wisdom to allow Hatey Katie to freely dispense her bigotry using its platform, others are sorely taxed by her return, not least the Centre for Countering Digital Hate, whose CEO Imran Ahmed has rather grandly put out a statement, just like proper important media people might.
Viewers may still want to look away now
“By permitting the publishing of bigotry and misinformation by known identity-based hate actors on their increasingly toxic platform, Twitter makes clear that profit comes ahead of social responsibility for them. Even when there are repeated serious breaches of their own rules, they fail to take corrective action. Rules are pointless without the #WillToAct. This is not a tech problem; this is a moral problem”. You tell em! And there was more.
“If social media companies repeatedly show they are not willing to take the necessary action to enforce their own rules without fear or favour, and to rid their platforms of unacceptable racism, religious hatred and other forms of intolerance, society and Government will be forced to step in by regulating, taxing and ultimately fixing the damage done to society by these platforms”. Strong stuff. And he had examples of misbehaviour.
Moreover, he was backed up by Countdown numbers person Rachel Riley, who looked at the response to Imran Ahmed and added “Some replies to this show how hate actors normalise & inspire fans to racially abuse others. Last week I got msgs from all kinds of people, relieved there was 1 less hate merchant on here. Disappointed w [Twitter], dodging their responsibility to remove hate from their platform”. Do go on.
“This is the tip of the iceberg with abusive and racist comments, many of which violate [Twitter]’s own rules. Why bother having them if they don’t enforce them?” Which shows that she is spectacularly missing the point. So let me put them both straight.
One, many of us have been trying to persuade Twitter - and other social media platforms - that action needed to be taken against the likes of Ms Hopkins, and for some years. To the platform’s credit, they have at least removed some hate mongers, but Hatey Katie remains. Two, Ms Riley and her pals at CCDH have, as far as is known, not bothered to engage with anti-fascist groups beforehand. So, Three, what is their status here?
Seriously, what authority do they possess? A minor Sleb, and a bloke with 6,500 Twitter followers who joined the platform less than a year ago? Who does he speak for? He and his pal Ms Riley got a meeting with Twitter, they got Ms Hopkins a suspension and investigation, they did bloody well for someone coming so late to the party.
To paraphrase what the man said in The Ipcress File, next time Rachel Riley appeals to authority, she needs to make sure she actually has it. I’ll just leave that one there.
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