Australian Muslim group files complaint against Twitter over failure to remove ‘hateful’ content

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Micro blogging platform Twitter has been accused by an advocacy group for Australian Muslims of failing to take action against accounts that incite hatred on the platform.

The Australian Muslim Advocacy Network (Aman) lodged a complaint against Twitter with the Queensland Human Rights Commission for inaction.

Aman argues that as a publisher Twitter is responsible for content posted by a far-right account that has been cited in the manifesto of the extremist who killed 77 people in Norway in 2011.

The network says despite multiple requests, Twitter has refused to delete the account and replies to its posts that “vilify” Muslims. These include comments such as “Ramadan means killing infidels” and claims that the Qur’an should be referred to as the “terrorist handbook”.

Comments cited in the complaint refer to the Qur’an as “this satanic memoir” and to Islam as “the most violent and sexually perverse cult”.

The network has accused Twitter under Queensland’s Anti-Discrimination Act of inciting hatred as a publisher of third-party accounts, as well as discrimination for refusing to take action against hateful content.

Its complaint also says Twitter has engaged in indirect discrimination by failing to apply Australian standards to content on its platform.

The network says it engaged with Twitter between July 2020 to July 2021. Aman says it asked the platform to remove several accounts that were inciting hatred but Twitter refused to act, saying the accounts were assessed to be “consistent with their policies”.

The complaint before the Commission contains 419 items, including 29 tweets it claims incited hatred and 390 comments and quotes on those tweets.

Rita Jabri Markwell, a lawyer for the network, said: “We were engaging with Twitter for over a year with really shocking examples. Pictures of Muslim men with guns being shoved into their mouths and pictures of Muslims depicted as monkeys and cavemen chasing people with knives.

“We want Twitter to take responsibility for their platform. It shouldn’t be left up to ordinary people to monitor their platform for them.”

Twitter’s hateful conduct policy says users “may not promote violence against or directly attack or threaten other people on the basis of race, ethnicity … sexual orientation … gender … [or]religious affiliation”.

It says the platform does “not allow accounts whose primary purpose is inciting harm towards others on the basis of these categories”.

Australia’s high court found media companies could be liable for third-party comments on their social media posts in the landmark Dylan Voller case last year.

In 2021, the advocacy network successfully sought orders to remove 141 pieces of content published by the former senator Fraser Anning from Facebook and Twitter.

Twitter refused to take the content down until the court ruling.

The network also has a race discrimination and section 18C complaint on foot through the Australian Human Rights Commission against Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram.

“We only take these legal actions because it’s our only option at the moment. We would like to see the burden shifts from us to a regulator, likely the eSafety Commissioner,” Jabri Markwell said. (Source: The Guardian)

 

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