Twitter sanctions two pro-Israel accounts

Platform claims decision against yellow star profile picture was an error.

By
February 27, 2018 18:35
3 minute read.
The locked Twitter account of the user GnasherJew.

The locked Twitter account of the user GnasherJew.. (photo credit: SCREENSHOT COURTESY OF @GNASHERJEW)

Twitter sanctioned two controversial accounts this week causing an outcry in the pro-Israel social media community – suspending one and forcing another to delete its profile image before reversing its course.

On Monday, the people behind the GnasherJew handle, an account which says exists to showcase “the UK Labour Party’s antisemitism issues,” found themselves locked out. The only way they could get back in, Twitter said, was to delete their profile image which had been deemed to contain “hateful imagery.” That image was of a yellow Star of David emblazoned with “Jude.”

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Separately, the Twitter account of the controversial organization Canary Mission was also suspended this week.
Organizers for the GnasherJew account, who choose to remain anonymous, said they “were shocked and quite frankly reduced to tears” to see the message from Twitter.

“We use the yellow star of David as our avatar, as a symbol of our resistance to the oppression and harassment of Jews within the Labour Party,” they said in a statement. “We have been constantly targeted by Labour Party supporters and members... We have been physically threatened, yet Twitter does nothing about these accounts, and our tiny symbol of resistance is taken as ‘hateful.’”

Those behind the account say they remain anonymous out of fear for themselves and their families: “We could face serious consequences,” one told The Jerusalem Post on Monday night. “People have threatened violence.”

But a media representative for Twitter told the Post that the sanction was a mistake.

“This was done in error and has since been corrected,” said Liz Kelley of Twitter’s communications team on Monday night.

But as of Tuesday afternoon, the team behind GnasherJew said it had not heard a word from Twitter. The account changed its profile image to a silver Magen David for more than 24 hours before reverting back to the yellow star.

“We have had no apology and it was not done in error,” an administrator of the account told the Post. They believe, the sanction came after Len McCluskey, chief of Unite the Union, a workers’ group tied to Labour, who called on his followers to report the account.

“You know full well these are lies. Stop spreading hatred. Step out from behind your fake name so we can know you for the cowardly bully you are,” McCluskey tweeted. “I am reporting your lies. I suggest others do the same.”

Kelley said she could not comment on what led to the Twitter sanction or how or why it was reversed. She did not respond to a question on how the account was supposed to know the decision was reversed without any contact.

“We do not comment on individual accounts for privacy and security reasons,” Kelley told the Post. “I can confirm that the number of reports does not affect how it’s reviewed or how we enforce the content.”

Kelley would not comment on the Canary Mission account. The organization told the Post on Tuesday that “we have not actually broken any rules that should cause us to be suspended.”

Canary Mission works to create a blacklist of individuals and organizations on college campuses across the US who it says promote antisemitic ideas. Its controversial tactics – which include linking to individuals’ social media accounts and tagging employers – have seen it banned from Facebook in the past. Many pro-Palestinian accounts and organizations celebrated Canary Mission’s suspension on Monday.

The organization Palestine Legal said Monday that the group “frequently harasses these individuals on Twitter with abusive and hateful messages.”

Those behind GnasherJew thought it was hardly a coincidence that both accounts were sanctioned by Twitter on the same day.

“CanaryMission went down at the same time as us, how odd,” one GnasherJew administrator said. “The fact remains they sanctioned us at the behest of antisemites and Len McCluskey whilst allowing the most foul antisemitism to go unpunished.”


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