Social media response to anti-Semitism ‘not good enough’, Downing Street says

Boris Johnson believes Twitter and Instagram’s response to anti-Semitic posts by grime artist Wiley “has not been good enough”, Downing Street has said.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said Mr Johnson shared Home Secretary Priti Patel’s view that Wiley’s posts were “abhorrent”.

Ms Patel has written to the social media giants seeking an explanation as to why some of Wiley’s posts were visible for more than 12 hours before being removed, and the Government has said it expects a full response.

Police are now investigating a series of comments made on the musician’s Instagram and Twitter accounts on Friday that led to him being banned from both for seven days.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Social media companies need to go much further and faster in removing hateful content such as this.

“The message is clear – Twitter needs to do better on this.”

Earlier on Monday, Britain’s Chief Rabbi accused Twitter and Facebook – which owns Instagram – of lacking “responsible leadership” in their response to the anti-Semitic posts.

In letters sent to Twitter boss Jack Dorsey and Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, Ephraim Mirvis said: “This cannot be allowed to stand. Your inaction amounts to complicity.”

He said he would join politicians, celebrities and other high-profile figures in a 48-hour boycott of the social media sites from Monday.

Downing Street said the Prime Minister would not be joining the boycott because of the need to communicate “important public health messages”.

“But at the same time we have set out very clearly that Twitter’s performance has not been good enough in response to the anti-Semitic comments made by Wiley and it needs to do much better,” The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.

Using the hashtag #NoSafeSpaceForJewHate, a number of high-profile Twitter users have announced their support for a planned boycott of the site in protest at the company’s handling of the incident.

Among those confirming they would take part was shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy, who tweeted her support alongside the message “#Solidarity”, as did fellow Labour MP Stella Creasy and Conservative MP Brendan Clarke-Smith, who said: “Anti-Semitism has no place in society and there should be zero tolerance of it.”

The official Labour Party account tweeted that it supports those taking part but as the official opposition with the duty of holding the Government to account it “cannot afford to be absent from social media platforms”.

Other prominent figures to announce their support included Lord Sugar, consumer champion Martin Lewis, TV presenter Rachel Riley and comedian Shappi Khorsandi.

Twitter and Facebook have both previously been accused of not doing enough to stop the spread of hate speech and harmful content on their platforms.

New regulation to better hold online companies to account is currently being prepared by the Government.

Twitter has previously said “abuse and harassment” have “no place” on its service and that it takes enforcement action over accounts which violate its rules addressing hateful conduct.

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