How Twitter Bends over Backwards to Keep Hate Speech Online

Plowing through my inbox this morning, I came upon a disturbing message from a person asking for my help in dealing with a racist, antisemitic Twitter user.

This Twitter user — self-identified as being in South Africa — had tweeted that he considered Jews being processed into lamp shades and soap as positive aspects of the Holocaust.

Twitter’s Terms of Service seem fairly explicit on this score:

Examples of what we do not tolerate includes, but is not limited to behavior that harasses individuals or groups of people with … references to mass murder, violent events, or specific means of violence in which/with which such groups have been the primary targets or victims …

Obviously that South African Twitter user’s tweet falls squarely into this category.

Yet my correspondent insists that they’ve been reporting that user to no avail — the vile tweet is still online.

Or is it?

I can definitely see it from here in L.A.

But when I noted this situation on Google+, within minutes a follower in Germany commented that he couldn’t see it. In fact, it’s specifically marked by Twitter as being “withheld” from him.

He graciously performed a few experiments with a VPN and quickly verified what we both had been suspecting.

Twitter appears to be geoblocking that hate speech in Germany, where strong laws against such speech are on the books, but is permitting that same hate speech to appear elsewhere, even though it clearly is in violation of Twitter’s own stated Terms of Service.

Effectively, Twitter is playing the complicit stooge with this disgusting Twitter user, “bending over backwards” to assure that their antisemitic garbage gets the widest possible global audience, while not running afoul of Germany’s specific laws.

This is a disgrace. It is yet another example of Twitter’s apparent willingness to give racists, antisemites, sexists, bullies, and other purveyors of hateful evil every possible benefit of the doubt.

For all of their talk, it’s clear that in key respects Twitter is still voluntarily tolerating obvious hate on their platform.

Twitter’s management should be ashamed of itself. Twitter’s employees are being humiliated. And the company’s stockholders should feel mortified.