Twitter Betrays Minority Communities Vowing To Protect Religious Extremists Instead
Last September, I was one of the hundreds of thousands of Twitter users who took the survey asking how the platform could better protect its users from targeted attacks and “dehumanizing language.” The goal was to expand upon its already poorly enforced Hateful Conduct Policy which, in theory, was intended to curb racist, xenophobic, anti-LGBT attacks and other such discriminatory behavior but in practice isn’t measurable.
The survey allowed users to express their experiences and concerns with the company and the platform. This seemingly came on the heels of Twitter handing out verifications to high profile alt-right, white supremacists before deciding that was a terrible idea given the fact that verified accounts are given far more widespread circulation and pushed to the top of searches. Thankfully, they rescinded the coveted blue checkmarks from those accounts and shortly afterward they suspended their verification process indefinitely.
The expansion of Twitter’s policy on hate speech and aggressive misconduct would have been a welcome change for those who are most vulnerable- specifically women of color. A study by Amnesty International showed that Black women were 84 percent more likely than White women to be disproportionately targeted.
Moreover, another study of 5000 people found that 23 percent of LGB identifying users between 18 and 24 were targeted online during a one month observation, with this number rising to 34 percent when it came to Transgender folks.
Anti-semitism has become far more prolific on social media since Donald Trump took office in 2016. Twitter saw over 4.2 million anti-semitic tweets from individual accounts between 2017 and 2018 according to a study by the Anti Defamation League. This only escalated as The President ramped up his rhetoric on prominent figures like philanthropist George Soros.
This leads one to ask the question: Where is most of the hate on Twitter coming from? A look at a graphic shared last year shows most of the users who engage in hate campaigns align themselves with Trumpist views, parroting his unique vernacular. It should come as no surprise that most Jewish Americans blame Donald Trump, explaining that they feel “Less safe” in post Trump America.
There is no doubt that Trump has emboldened hatred and violence toward minority communities, not just in the US, but also the UK. He has ingratiated himself into UK politics, retweeted heinous, anti-muslim propaganda from a far-right hate group, attacked the British Prime Minister, the Mayor of London and the UK Ambassador. Meanwhile, he is allying with some of the most notorious dictators in the world.
Trump’s base is mostly comprised of white Christian evangelicals, many who peddle anti-lgbt, anti-muslim, anti-semitic propaganda. They also routinely attack feminists with a pro-choice stance who speak out in defense of their reproductive rights. Trump travels exclusively to rile his base and he knows exactly where to find them. Places like the Value Voters Summit where he spoke to the masses of religious right wing extremists, many of them preachers who believe gay people are “Mentally ill” and blame Satan for LGBT activism. Hurricanes, according to Trump Supporting, anti-gay brothers David and Jason Benham who spoke at the convention, are the consequence of LGBTQ Americans having rights. Donald Trump was the first President in history to speak at the controversial convention, and in 2018, Mike Pence became the first Vice President to address the congregates intent on re-framing hate as patriotism.
Empowered by the Presidential stamp of approval, those doling out religious motivated bigotry weaponize social media when not huddled together under a sea of blood red hats, chanting at a rally. As this administration exchanges constitutional law for religious doctrines enshrined as law, we’re witnessing America spiral backward in time with the redaction of laws protecting minorities from discrimination, transgender military bans, Muslim travel bans, the push to overturn Roe vs. Wade and the suggestion by Supreme Court Judge Clarence Thomas that Marriage equality should be next to be reversed. Amplify those actions with the establishment of the Religious Freedom panel and the founding of a new Health and Human Services branch known as the New Conscience and Religious Freedom Division, it is evident that religious extremism is taking a political stronghold on the nation and Trump is enthusiastically courting it; Not because he’s religious himself, but instead is harnessing religion as leverage, effectively wielding the bigotry and prejudices of the extremists who adore him to his political benefit. He knows how to use them. He signals their outrage via his own tweets. Quite often this doesn’t merely result in a spike of online attacks on whatever minority has found themselves in his cross-hairs, but it boils over into real world violence.
A recent study showed the timing of Donald Trump’s tweets about Muslims coincides closely with anti-Muslim hate crimes, particularly those in areas where many people use Twitter. It’s important to note that Muslims do not fall between the goalposts of the new government agencies who are vowing to reinforce religious ideology. Only Christians do.
When Twitter announced today that, after considering all the input from their survey, they had decided to centralize their focus on protecting religious groups… not the vulnerable communities they prey upon, it was a shocking move. One can plainly observe that religious groups- most of who already inherently have protections, now moreso than ever before, are the least in need of protection from the rest of us. A war on Christianity is as real as the war on Christmas they love to grandstand upon.
No one was marching down a street in Charlottesville chanting “Christians will not replace us,” and then called “fine people.”
There is no Christian travel ban. No Anti-Christian hate groups protesting churches. You can find the Christians protesting gay pride, or planned parenthood. However, The Southern Poverty Law Center recognizes over 1,100 far-right, christian identifying hate groups across the United States.
These religious groups are not threatened by the rest of us. The religious right currently holds more power, more wealth and organize in greater numbers than any other group in the world- Trump know this. It is minorities who remain at their mercy, both politically, culturally and even on social media that require protecting.
With its most recent pledge to protect those embedded in the very community most responsible for the hate spewed online, it certainly failed again.