A string of racist tweets were plastered outside Twitter’s German offices in Hamburg as part of a stunt highlighting the social media giant’s apparent failure to remove hateful content. Shahak Shapira told RT he took the action to protest the company’s record on responding to hate speech reports.
Berlin-based Israeli satirist and artist Shapira used stencils and chalk to send a clear message to Twitter after he claims to have received only nine responses to 300 hate tweets he reported to the company.
Shapira said that each response stated there was no violation of Twitter’s rules and any occasional tweet that was removed was done so without informing him. Facebook on the other hand deleted 80 percent of his hate comments, according to Shapira.
“The statements I reported weren’t just plain insults or jokes, but absolutely serious threats of violence, homophobia, xenophobia or Holocaust denial. Things that nobody should say and nobody should read,” he said.
In response to perceived Twitter’s lack of action, Shapira decided to bring 30 of the offensive tweets right to Twitter’s front door.
The chalk sprayed messages included “Retweet if you hate Muslims,” and “Jewish pigs.”
Shapira told RT that he got no official response from Twitter to his art work but noted that only the entrance of the Twitter building was cleaned up immediately.
“It fits well with Twitter’s police of cleaning in front of their own door and leaving the rest to be someone else’s problem,” he said.
Shapira denied his actions amounted to vandalism – pointing out he used a chalk spray which is easily washed off by rain.
Twitter’s policy states that users “may not promote violence against or directly attack or threaten other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease.”
“We also do not allow accounts whose primary purpose is inciting harm towards others on the basis of these categories,” it adds.
An EU Commission report published in June noted that Twitter had sped up its process in dealing with notifications of hateful content but still lagged significantly behind Facebook.
Germany introduced laws in June imposing fines on social media companies that fail to delete hateful content within 24 hours. Under the new legislation social media companies face fines of up to €50 million if they persistently fail to remove illegal content from their sites.