The Twitter team was forced to respond to a flow of complaints after a number of accounts displaying images of the Star of David were locked by the company for apparently posting “hateful imagery”.
Campaign Against Antisemitism, a British non-governmental organisation, said this week that it had received a number of complaints from Twitter users who said that their accounts have been targeted as they received the following message from the company:
"We have determined that this account violated the Twitter Rules. Specifically for: Violating our rules against posting hateful imagery. You may not use hateful images or symbols in your profile image or profile header. As a result, we have locked your account.”
The images that have been deemed problematic included graphic drawings of the Star of David in various settings, including next to the fictional character Harley Quinn, as well as a version “spliced” with the yellow star associated with the armbands Jews were forced to wear by the Nazis.
So it’s around 4 weeks since @rabbizvi was suspended without reason or notification and no response by twitter..— (((Shosanna Dreyfus))) #FreeRabbiZvi (@ShosDreyfus) July 18, 2020
It’s nearly 2 weeks since @Racharley77 was locked out for refusing to delete her bio pic cause twitter say the Magen David is hateful & no response.
Is twitter AS? pic.twitter.com/u7PTs4zBjA
Just changed my background to that of @Racharley77’s icon photo. She was blocked by Twitter for ‘hateful imagery’ - a cute cartoon character and a #starofdavid. I also updated my profile - added a special hashtag to define the outrage. #AmYisraelChai - #TwitterSucks!! pic.twitter.com/hbVvnDnQSe— Jay Engelmayer (@jengelmayer) July 21, 2020
Users were reportedly advised to delete the images in question to get their accounts restored but the activists behind the campaign found Twitter’s actions outrageous.
“It is deplorable enough that Twitter consistently fails to act against antisemitism on its platform, but now it is taking action against Jews for the simple crime of showing pride in their identity by displaying a Star of David. It never fails to astound just how low Twitter is prepared to go,” said Stephen Silverman, Director of Investigations and Enforcement at Campaign Against Antisemitism.
As screenshots of messages received by the locked users were circulating online, many netizens moved to support them by changing their profile pics to various alternatives of the white-blue Hebrew symbol in order to address the platform’s “hateful imagery” policy, which many found problematic.
I read an article that says Twitter is marking the Star of David as hateful. I am a Christian who loves the Jewish people and know our Republic was founded on Judeo-Christian principles.— Deplorable Patriot (@vrc5223) July 22, 2020
So. How do you like my new profile pic? pic.twitter.com/5LMyVTlInl
To.Twitter is this hateful a memorial light for soldiers killed with the Star of David. pic.twitter.com/RqGfNRHC8H— Pinchas Alfasi (@PinchasAlfasi2) July 21, 2020
Apparently the Star of David was deemed offensive imagery by Twitter. Let's test that out. If it's your profile pic apparently you get locked out. Going to make a quick change to my profile pic. I'm sure it's nonsense but let's see what happens. @TwitterSupport pic.twitter.com/8lGCzMBqmK— Joseph Todd (@JosephToddPPC) July 21, 2020
Twitter's Public Policy team later explained that it had locked some of the accounts by mistake as it was trying to target those social media users who were promoting violence or threatening “people on the basis of categories such as religious affiliation, race and ethnic origin”.
“We categorically do not consider the Star of David as a hateful symbol or hateful image. We have for some time seen the 'yellow star' or ‘yellow badge’ symbol being used by those seeking to target Jewish people,” the company wrote.
“While the majority of cases were correctly actioned, some accounts highlighted recently were mistakes and have now been restored”, the team explained, while thanking Campaign Against Antisemitism for “bringing this to our attention”.
This is a violation of the Twitter Rules, and our Hateful Conduct Policy prohibits the promotion of violence against - or threats of attack towards - people on the basis of categories such as religious affiliation, race and ethnic origin https://t.co/LWewatWedr— Twitter Public Policy (@Policy) July 22, 2020
The company has already found itself in hot water with anti-Semitism campaigners after it failed to address a viral #JewishPrivilege hashtag that was trending on Twitter, accompanied by various anti-Semitic slurs – the inaction that has been strongly condemned by activists from Campaign Against Antisemitism.
Which privilege?— 📚Tibby ♀️✡ (@tibby17) July 12, 2020
The one where my grandfather was liberated from Gross-Rosen to find his entire family murdered?
Or the one where I finally took the Star of David out of my twitter bio bc I got sick of being called a kike whenever some jerk disagreed with me? #JewishPrivilege pic.twitter.com/saIHmlAwQJ