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British Jewish Group Claims Twitter Deemed Star of David as ‘Hateful Image’; Twitter Denies It

[additional-authors]
July 22, 2020
A Star of David is visible among the ornamentation at the Brodyer Synagogue at the ordination of new Rabbis Shlomo Afanasev and Moshe Baumel on August 30, 2010 in Leipzig, Germany. Though both Afanasev and Baumel were born in the former Soviet Union, they grew up in Germany and are among a growing number of German-raised rabbis graduating from the Ronald Lauder-supported Rabbinical Seminary in Berlin. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism (CAA), a British watchdog group, alleged in a July 20 statement that Twitter has been suspending accounts for having a Star of David in their profile pictures, a claim that Twitter has denied.

According to the CAA, several Twitter users with Stars of David in their profile pictures have informed them that Twitter locked their accounts under the rationale they were “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.”

“It is deplorable enough that Twitter consistently fails to act against anti-Semitism 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,” Stephen Silverman, CAA’s director of investigations and enforcement, said in a statement. “It never fails to astound just how low Twitter is prepared to go.”

He added: “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 anti-Semites whom it has enabled for so long.”

Twitter’s Global Policy team issued a series of tweets explaining that the accounts in question had photos juxtaposed with yellow Star of David badges. Such yellow Star of David badges does constitute as hateful imagery since they reference the Holocaust but Stars of David do not, according to the tweets.

“While the majority of cases were correctly actioned, some accounts highlighted recently were mistakes and have now been restored,” one of the tweets stated.

 

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt praised Twitter for correcting the matter.

“While we can’t expect social media platforms to be perfect, we can expect them to correct problems when they learn of them,” Greenblatt tweeted. “Kudos to Twitter for doing this here and elsewhere recently.”

However, Silverman argued that only one of the accounts in question featured a yellow badge and the account was doing so as “a means of reclaiming the yellow stars used by the Nazis. This is precisely the kind of inept response to anti-Semitism that we have come to expect from Twitter, which just last week tried to convince us that the viral anti-Semitic #JewishPrivilege hashtag was legitimate.

“We would happily help Twitter, but they largely ignore us when we approach them, which we take as a reflection of their inconsistency in addressing this,” he added. “It seems that Twitter prefers to go after Jewish users who proudly display their identity but not after anti-Semitic users who unabashedly promote anti-Jewish vitriol.”

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