Katie Hopkins, a right-wing commentator, was finally permanently banned from Twitter for “hateful conduct’ policy violation. However, the masses question why Twitter took so long to ban a person with a long list of negative comments.
Currently, on social media, many people are as dangerous as Hopkins, even though they do not command a huge following. Despite not being motivated by the extreme right, their expressions of racial and religious hatred often resemble those of the far right.
As Black Lives Matter continues to shed light about racism – and steering backlash from people deploying social media to spew bile against African Americans – time is ripe for internet companies to do more to fight all kinds of prejudice.
A while back, studying online Islamophobia following the Woolwich terror attack, I isolated several lawbreakers on Twitter who could be categorized as racist. Most were not members of a far-right group. However, they used the social media’s veil to perpetuate an “us and them’ narrative.
Many people who fall within these classes still craft bigoted comments. For instance, Rhodenne Chand was not a member of any far-right group but was incarcerated for publishing several Islamophobic tweets after the Manchester terror attack.
At the same time, Liam Stacey was imprisoned for publishing racist tweets concerning Fabrice Muamba. And these two cases prove that one does not have to be a far-right neo-Nazi, to publish a series of discriminatory tweets. You can be the guy buying into the discriminatory view and spreading fake news.
“When a toxic person cannot longer control you, they will try how others see you. The misinformation will seem unfair but rise above it, trusting that others will eventually see the truth, just as you did.”Jill Blakeway
You also do not require to be racist to perpetuate discriminatory behavior online. From research, it is evident that some people get into discussions singling out susceptible people. Others publish content that is not directly discriminatory, which they know will cause racial tension. Case in point, there was a post asking about regular British breakfast, and it seemed inoffensive, yet it was laced with Islamophobia within the comment section.
Hence, online platforms serve as amplifying tools for racist views and detestable rhetoric. Making the way a few people conceive the universe appear more authentic. It bolsters how they view social media as a space where one can publish racially charged content, frequently with the forewarning that they are not racially prejudiced but abhor a dogma. This can be interpreted as some social creativity where people their online behavior to try and fit in within a specific in-group. “Virtual cyber mob’ is another phrase one would deploy in describing them.
With continued research, it is quite obvious that these behaviour has been normalized even with a shift in its focus over the years. In 2019, in charge of a self-regulating government-commissioned study project to establish how people utilized online spaces to spread racially prejudiced views. We identified many publications centered on the mainstream media, conspiracies, and fake news.
As part of the research, we gathered many comments posted on Twitter to react to the 2019 terror attack against a Muslim faithful in Christchurch, New Zealand. Many people depicted it in regards to media prejudice against victims of other terror attacks.
Hence, it is crucial to understand that these Twitter posts on online platforms echo broader attitudes widespread within the offline universe. Online platforms appear to serve as amplifiers for discriminatory people, but these sentiments are much more common than you can imagine. As a people, we need to contend with how these discriminatory ideas have become part and parcel of our lives and challenge and shed light on them.
Online platforms companies including TikTok, Facebook, and Twitter have taken steps in the right direction by banning and getting rid of those tied to the far right. And that is only the beginning, as more has to be done to pinpoint other people who are less clearly spewing racial and religious prejudice, regularly under Social Media’s veil of secrecy. Only then can the world successfully alter their attitudes and lower online engagement platforms’ considerable capacity for damage.