A group of MPs has called for Twitter users who offend others by using racist language and insults to be banned from social networking sites. The All Party Group on Anti-Semitism claimed “internet ASBOs” would curb the “disturbing” rise in attacks on Jews.
They pointed to a number of examples of when racist language was used on Twitter, including one occasion when “Hitler was right” trended on the social media platform. The MPs’ report said: “Given the scale of social media content produced on a daily let alone minute by minute basis, we have some albeit limited sympathy for the companies that are responsible for hosting it.
“Whilst there is rightly an expectation on those companies to act as there is on government, police and prosecuting authorities, so too civil society has a crucial role to play.”
It continued: “There is an allowance in the law for banning or blocking individuals from certain aspects of internet communication in relation to sexual offences.
“Informal feedback we have received from policy experts indicates that this is a potential area of exploration for prosecutors in relation to hate crime.
“If it can be proven in a detailed way that someone has made a considered and determined view to exploit various online networks to harm and perpetrate hate crimes against others then the accepted principles, rules and restrictions that are relevant to sex offences must surely apply.”
The report comes after the CEO of Twitter, Dick Costolo, admitted the company “suck” at dealing with people who use the system to attack others. In an internal memo he promised to “start kicking these people off right and left”.
However, any attempt to curb free speech on the internet is likely to be met with significant hostility from civil liberties campaigners. One MP who wished to remain anonymous told Breitbart London: “I can understand why the Jewish community feel threatened but this report comes just one day after groups demanded Britain promise never to criticise Islam.
“This could very easily be the thin end of the wedge, and just lead to legitimate comment being silenced. I’m fairly certain that if most Jewish groups really thought about it they would accept that free speech is probably the safer option.”