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Social Media Allowing Islamophobia to Flourish

Facebook and Twitter Won't Clamp Down

Social Media is an incredible platform to give people a voice. Unfortunately, some of those voices promote racism and hatred on a daily basis.

Normally, you’d expect such comments be taken down immediately. But a recent study by The Independent has discovered that social media giants Facebook and Twitter have refused to take down hundreds of inflammatory Islamophobic posts on their sites.

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The number of posts containing offensive material has seen a distinct rise following on from the Rotherham sex scandal and after British hostages were executed by ISIS.

Many of the posts accuse Muslims of being paedophiles, rapists and comparable to cancer. Some of the more extreme posts have actively called for the mass executions of Muslims in Britain. Pretty nasty stuff.

Facebook and Twitter both claim that they actively moderate and delete all posts that promote threats and violence but that they have to try to strike a fine balance between freedom of expression and creating a safe environment. I suppose that is a fair statement, though I hope I’m joined in my disbelief that comparing people to cancer is appropriate freedom of expression. Even if posts don’t directly call for violence, all they do is promote it and allow hatred to grow.

Over the past few months Muslim groups have been gathering up hateful posts and users in order to present them to Facebook and Twitter. However, after bringing the issue to the online sites, many of the abusive users can still be found online.

Here are some of the posts that have remained up:

‘Should have lost World War Two. Your daughters would be getting impregnated by handsome blond Germans instead of Pakistani goat herders. Good job Britain.’

‘For every person beheaded by these sick savages we should drag 10 off the streets and behead them, film it and put it online. For every child they cut in half … we cut one of their children in half. An eye for an eye.’

These two were judged by Facebook to not break any of their guidelines. I don’t think Facebook really grasps that when hateful posts like these are made they promote violence at every level. The targeted people will lash out and those who agree will get whipped up into more of frenzy over them. It may be at a loss of liberty, but I don’t think people promoting messages like these should be accepted in an age where we are expected to be tolerant of all.  

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Fiyaz Mughal, director of Faith Matters, an interfaith organisation which runs a helpline called Tell MAMA, for victims of anti-Muslim violence commented on the issue:

‘It is morally unacceptable that social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, which are vast profit-making companies, socially engineer what is right and wrong to say in our society when they leave up inflammatory, highly socially divisive and openly bigoted views.’

Hate groups such as Britain First rely on social media to organise rallies and to keep their organisations running. It also frequently updates their page with propaganda to poison minds against Islam and immigrants. I found it upsetting having to delete friends from Facebook who had chosen to follow Britain First and similar hate groups.

I don’t mean to be completely anti-British. There are groups who actively promote hatred against Westerners as well. Just look at how ISIS have their own Twitter account.

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The rise in online abuse would appear to mirror a rise in hate attacks during the past year. In October the Metropolitan Police released figures to show hate crime against Muslims in London had risen by 65 per cent over the previous 12 months. Latest figures also suggest that, nationally, anti-Muslim hate crime has risen sharply following the murder of Lee Rigby in 2013.

Speaking out about the issue, Facebook said: ‘We take hate speech seriously and remove any content reported to us that directly attacks others based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability or medical condition. With a diverse global community of more than a billion people, we occasionally see people post content which, whilst not against our rules, some people may find offensive. By working with community groups like Faith Matters, we aim to show people the power of counter speech and, in doing so, strike the right balance between giving people the freedom to express themselves and maintaining a safe and trusted environment.’

A Twitter spokesman said: “We review all reported content against our rules, which prohibit targeted abuse and direct, specific threats of violence against others.”

I hope that Twitter and Facebook step their game up.


They have a huge community to police and as it stands, they seem more concerned to cover up a nipple or two in pictures as opposed to tackling a much more scary issue


Tom has just graduated from University of East London in Creative and Professional Writing. He loves writing and is currently interning as a content writer hoping to go further. His other loves include Arnold Schwarzenegger films and his dog. Follow him @TomAtSMF

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Social Media Allowing Islamophobia to Flourish Reviewed by Tom Welby on Tuesday, January 06, 2015 Rating: 5
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