In an ironic twist, Twitter’s battle against racism led them to block accounts incorporating the Jewish star. The Campaign Against Antisemitism was contacted this week by many Twitter users whose accounts had been locked. Twitter sent messages explaining the measure:

 “We have determined that this account violated the Twitter Rules. Specifically for: Violating our rules against posting hateful imagery. You may not use hateful images or symbols in your profile image or profile header. As a result, we have locked your account.”

Twitter instructed them that if they delete the “hateful imagery”, i.e. the Star of David, the account may be unlocked. Twitter’s “Hateful Imagery” policy states:

“You may not use hateful images or symbols in your profile image or profile header. You also may not use your username, display name, or profile bio to engage in abusive behavior, such as targeted harassment or expressing hate towards a person, group, or protected category.” 

One of the definitions for “Hateful Images” is “symbols historically associated with hate groups.”

A locked account on Twitter (courtesy: Twitter)

The reason for the policy is given: 

“Research has shown that some groups of people are disproportionately targeted with abuse online. This includes; women, people of color, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual individuals, marginalized and historically underrepresented communities.”

It is interesting to note that Jews, the group that in every country around the world is most targeted by racism and hate crimes, is not listed as one of the groups targeted by online abuse.

Stephen Silverman, Director of Investigations and Enforcement at Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: “It is deplorable enough that Twitter consistently fails to act against antisemitism on its platform, but now it is taking action against Jews for the simple crime of showing pride in their identity by displaying a Star of David. It never fails to astound just how low Twitter is prepared to go.

“So often social media companies claim that they lack the resources to tackle hate on their platforms, but Twitter has put the lie to that claim by demonstrating that it does have the resources, but chooses to target the benign symbol of a victimized minority instead of the countless racists who use its platform with impunity.

“Twitter must immediately restore these accounts, apologize to the owners, and pledge finally to take robust action against the antisemites whom it has enabled for so long.”

The Campaign pointed out that just last week, Twitter refused to take action against the anti-Semitic hashtag, #JewishPrivilege, and earlier this year, Twitter was forced to apologize for permitting advertisements to be micro-targeted at neo-Nazis and other bigots.

It is interesting to note that triple parentheses are an antisemitic symbol that has been used to highlight the names of individuals of Jewish background, or organizations thought to be owned by Jews. Though the notation was classified as a form of hate speech by the Anti-Defamation League in 2016, it has never  been banned by Twitter