Published: Fri, August 11, 2017
Culture | By Antonia Gonzales

Israeli-German artist paints anti-Semitic tweets outside Twitter offices

Israeli-German artist paints anti-Semitic tweets outside Twitter offices

'Things no one should say and no one should read. Out of the 300 tweets that he had reported, he only received answers for nine over six months.

Shahak Shapira posted a video of himself on YouTube showing himself and fellow activists stencilling tweets such as "Let's gas the Jews" and "Germany needs a final solution to Islam", both direct references to the Nazi regime's World War Two genocide of Europe's Jews.

Shahak Shapira, a Berlin-based Jewish comedian and author, has stenciled and spray-painted 30 racist, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, and homophobic tweets - and the accounts associated with them - outside Twitter's German headquarters in Hamburg. It would not say how many accounts had been addressed and declined to comment on Shapira's protest.

Starting in October, social media companies operating in Germany could face fines as high as 50 million euros, or almost S$80 million, if they do not respond to requests to remove illegal, racist or slanderous comments and posts within 24 hours of being notified. I'm not demanding Twitter to set up new guidelines. Others, however, had either been blocked in Germany or been removed entirely.

Germany has one of the world's toughest laws as far as hate speech is concerned.

Shapira said he also reported about 150 similar examples of hate on Facebook, 80 percent of which were removed within three days, he said. But Shapira said he had been left in the dark about many of his requests.

"It angers me that most people don't revolt against", the unnamed man says. Referring to Twitter removing hate speech such as "Gays to Auschwitz" as censorship is an insult to people who actually had to fight for their freedom of speech. The EU study noted that all the companies in question had improved their response rate. The #HEYTWITTER hashtag has already picked up global supporters and will hopefully force Twitter to take quicker action against such comments. Back in January, the artist simultaneously lampooned and derided the trend for taking selfies with Holocaust memorials on his website Yolocaust, stripping away background images and replacing them with scenes from concentration camps. Instead of sitting in a quiet rage though, he made a decision to go out and make Twitter's own employees face the tweets themselves, right outside their offices in Hamburg.

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