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The unbelievable excuse Facebook and Twitter offer for allowing racism on line

By Tony Attwood

Facebook f logo (2019).svgWe live in a world of bland excuses.  Indeed in the UK if one listens to the news on the radio, that’s what one hears politicians offer all day long.   The broadcaster points out that we have 4.2 million children living in poverty in the UK, and the government replies it is spending more money on child poverty than ever before.

And that’s it.  The return comment, “well obviously you are not spending enough” is not heard.  The debate concludes.

So it is with Facebook and Twitter.

Twitter has refused to ban anonymous accounts on the grounds that, “We believe everyone has the right to share their voice without requiring a government ID to do so.”

Which is about as close to mindless gibberish as one can get, since no one is saying that a person needs a government ID to be on Twitter.   Twitter itself can trace accounts and ban them.  It can also ban accounts from specific IP addresses.  Not perfect approaches, but it is a start.  No government involvement required.

Likewise when a racist sent abuse sent to Yan Dhanda of Swansea via Instagram, the racist was just banned for a short period, because “it’s important people have the opportunity to learn from their mistakes”.

But all the evidence is that racists and abusers never learn from their mistakes.  And so the abuse spreads.  Mikel Arteta reported that he had received threats online of late.  Nothing it seems is done, and the problem grows.

Part of the justification for allowing racist abuse on social media is that everyone can have an opinion, which of course is true, since everyone can think whatever they want.  But that is not the issue – it is the expressing of certain opinions which society at large deems offensive which is the problem.

At Highbury, anti-Semitic chanting was heard regularly.  Through constant pressure and a subsequent swing of opinion it was eliminated.   There are undoubtedly people who support Arsenal who are anti-Semitic but their opinions are no longer heard in the ground.

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And that shows what can be done, for it is of course a lot easier for social media companies to stop people expressing unacceptable views than it is to cut out anti-Semitic chanting in a crowd.

But there is an underlying attitude in the media which is causing this problem.   Take the headline in the Daily Mirror which reads “Mikel Arteta told changes he must make to get “Arsenal’s best team” on the pitch”.

What’s wrong with this is that it clearly suggests that the person making the comments (which turns out to be Glenn Hoddle) knows exactly what should be done, while clearly Mike Arteta is too dumb to see the solution.  That in turn implies the answer is simple and staring us in the face while Arteta can’t or won’t see it at all.

Any Arsenal supporter believing that is likely to start getting angry.  The answer is out there, it is obvious, if only Arteta would do it, we would win every game.  Anger then breeds anger and off we go. Arteta can be called a “Spanish ****” and the abuse rises.  When it is a black player who is being abused, it is just a tiny step to racism, instead of it being a huge step to racism.

Yet altough “Mikel Arteta told changes he must make to get “Arsenal’s best team” on the pitch” was the headline, the comments actually made were not related to that at all.  Instead Hoddle was engaging in a gentle exploration of the notion that playing Lacazette and Aubameyang together while still keeping the shape of the game could really help Arsenal.

There was no telling Arteta the changes “he must make”, as if Arteta is a dozy nutter who can’t see the obvious.

It is this constant twisting and turning of what someone has said into a much more aggressive headline that is part of the problem.  And that takes us right back to the media which always refuses to accept any responsibility for anything.  They claim they are just reporting what is out there, but they are not.  It is their tone and style that increases aggression and anger.

In short, it is the media that creates the background in which anger and aggression is the norm

Gaslighting: how refereeing in the Premier League is manipulated, and why the media never speak about it.

 

3 comments to The unbelievable excuse Facebook and Twitter offer for allowing racism on line

  • arse_or_brain

    While I believe social media should do more to cut out online abuse of all sorts I also recognise the need for annonimity in the world.
    Social media is global and many of the poorer nations people do not have ID. Looking at thsi as a sport or entertainment point of veiw is very narrow minded.
    Politically criticizing governments around the world is probably better done without names.
    As bad as online abuse is this a very shitty agressive world and can you imagine people disagreeing about something small only for it to turn into meeting in the physical world.
    When people are fighting,stabbing each other and burning houses down and governments are locking up people for life because of an opinion then I think evryone may reconsider this ID thing.

  • Laos Gooner

    Are people really surprised? Anti- social media is a tool for the destruction of society not for its good. Why anyone would think that giving idiots a selective echo chamber might lead to anywhere other than where we are today baffles me. I would not expect great change whilst these companies make huge profits selling data to advertisers. I would also highlight a comment from a fan channel saying that any copyright material infringement is dealt with almost as one tries to share it with a big message about your wrong doing, racist and abusive content can sit there for days or months on end withput sanction. We need as society to start regarding the internet with the suspicion a military application deserves.

  • porter

    As a kid I watched the wizard of Oz and wondered how a man without a brain could talk.
    Then along came Facebook .!