British lawmakers ponder social media ban for anti-Semitism

Jewish Mausoleum

Anton Raath/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Anti-Semitic remarks may soon get British trolls booted from social media.

British lawmakers have proposed new measures to ban citizens who express anti-Semitic sentiments from social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

A report from the All Party Parliamentary Inquiry, led by Labour MP John Mann, suggests that if people make a “considered and determined” effort to “harm and perpetuate hate crimes against others,” they should lose their all rights to have social media accounts.

Revoking social media rights is necessary, the committee said, to stem a growing trend of anti-Semitic comments perverting online culture. The committee suggested the use of Internet “ASBOs.”

ASBOs, or “antisocial behavior orders,” were introduced by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1998 for individuals who display antisocial behavior. The orders are typically associated with delinquent youth and prohibit certain types of behavior in public, such as drinking or swearing.

The committee also called for actions and funds to secure synagogues, and moved to have anti-Semitism speech classified as a hate crime, according to the Independent.

Racism and violence directed at Jewish people in Britain is twice as prevalent as in the ’90s, the MPs warned, citing polling data that shows 37 percent of the public think anti-Semitism is on the rise.

A study conducted by a Jewish charity, the Community Security Trust, reflected a rise in anti-Semitic messages online following the Israeli military action in Gaza last year.

The conflict left up to 2,300 Palestinians dead, 513 of them children. On the Israeli side, 66 soldiers were killed and five civilians, including one child. Up to 17,200 Gazan homes were destroyed during seven-week-long Israeli military bombardment.

At the time of the bombing, the hashtag “Hitler was right” trended, while “Hitler” and “Holocaust” were among the top 35 Twitter keywords, according to the Telegraph.

The British MPs cited recent comments from Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, who said the social media site “sucks at dealing with abuse and trolls.”

According to the Independent, British Prime Minister David Cameron is considering implementing the panel’s recommendations. “Tackling anti-Semitism goes right to the heart of what we stand for as a country,” he said.

MPs met with Twitter and Facebook executives during the parliamentary inquiry. The panel reportedly praised Facebook as a “willing partner” in combating anti-Semitism, but expressed doubt toward Twitter’s abuse reporting procedures.

“There is an allowance in the law for banning or blocking individuals from certain aspects of Internet communication in relation to sexual offences,” the report states, citing a 2003 law that gives courts the ability to ban sexual offenders from the Internet.

“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 perpetuate hate crimes against others then the accepted principles, rules, and restrictions that are relevant to sex offenses must surely apply.”

Photo via Anton Raath/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Dell Cameron

Dell Cameron

Dell Cameron was a reporter at the Daily Dot who covered security and politics. In 2015, he revealed the existence of an American hacker on the U.S. government's terrorist watchlist. He is a co-author of the Sabu Files, an award-nominated investigation into the FBI's use of cyber-informants. He became a staff writer at Gizmodo in 2017.