To fight hate, can boycotts of social media work?
Social media has faced worse criticism on a larger scale before
Recently, British musician Wiley tweeted a barrage of anti-Semitism. Twitter’s response was weak and did not fundamentally address the problem.
The tweets remained up for many hours, being widely retweeted in the meantime. Although a few were later taken down, many of the hateful ones remained.
Wiley was subsequently banned from Twitter for a few hours, switching to Instagram where he continued his hate. But even when he became the subject of a police investigation for his hate speech, Twitter and Instagram only banned him for a week.
In response, British Jews called for a 48-hour boycott of Twitter and Instagram. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz has a very good article about the incidents and the boycott here.
Wiley’s following is twice the size of British Jewry, and Jewish Twitter and Instagram as a whole are only a small part of Twitter and Instagram.
This is why I am skeptical of the effectiveness of the boycott, which was not even for a long period of time. Jewish Twitter seems more effective if its strategy is flipping hashtags, as described in this article, or developing a response targeting Wiley rather than Twitter.
Social media has faced worse criticism on a larger scale before, and boycotts haven’t worked.
However, was this boycott justified not because of its effect on Twitter, but because of the negative publicity about Wiley? Or did the negative publicity not have enough effect on Wiley? It also seems to have led to an outpouring of support for Jews.
I’d like to hear your thoughts about the boycott
Originally published here