Priti Patel demands 'faster action' from social media firms amid Wiley tweets

26 July 2020, 13:39 | Updated: 26 July 2020, 14:58

The police are investigating Wiley's tweets
The police are investigating Wiley's tweets. Picture: Getty
Maddie Goodfellow

By Maddie Goodfellow

The Home Secretary has called on social media companies to act faster in removing "appalling hatred" from their platforms following outrage over anti-Semitic posts made by grime artist Wiley.

Police are investigating a series of comments made on the musician's Instagram and Twitter accounts on Friday that led to him being banned from both for seven days.

In a tweet on Sunday, Priti Patel said: "The antisemitic posts from Wiley are abhorrent.

"They should not have been able to remain on Twitter and Instagram for so long, and I have asked them for a full explanation.

"Social media companies must act much faster to remove such appalling hatred from their platforms."

Following Wiley's posts, Twitter was accused of "ignoring anti-Semitism" as his tweets were still visible 12 hours after they were first posted.

A number of tweets have now been removed and he has been given a seven-day ban by the site.

On Sunday, a spokesperson for Facebook, which owns Instagram, said the platform had also issued the rapper with a seven-day block on his account.

Twitter previously said Wiley's account had been temporarily locked "for violating our hateful conduct policy", while Facebook said there was "no place for hate speech on Instagram".

Government minister Robert Jenrick echoed the calls made by the Home Secretary.

The minister for housing, communities and local government tweeted: "I was appalled to see Wiley's antisemitic racist rant on social media yesterday, which should not have been able to remain online for so long.

"@pritipatel has asked Twitter and Instagram for an explanation, which as Communities Secretary I fully support.."

On Saturday, his manager John Woolf said A-List Management had "cut all ties" with the musician following the social media posts.

Mr Woolf, who is Jewish, wrote on Twitter on Saturday morning: "Following Wiley's antisemitic tweets today we at @A_ListMGMT have cut all ties with him. There is no place in society for antisemitism."

He had earlier said he did not support or condone what Wiley posted but that he would speak to him privately and "help educate him".

Wiley, known as the Godfather of Grime and whose real name is Richard Cowie, received an MBE for services to music in 2018.

In a statement issued on Friday, a spokesperson for the Campaign Against Antisemitism said: "Our Crime Unit has reported this matter to the Metropolitan Police Service as we consider that Wiley has committed the offence of incitement to racial hatred, which can carry a substantial prison sentence.

"We have additionally asked Twitter and Facebook, which owns Instagram, to close down his accounts which have hundreds of thousands of followers, to prevent further outpouring of anti-Jewish venom."

They added that they would be contacting the Cabinet Office to ask that Wiley's MBE is revoked.

The spokesperson said: "Wiley has many hundreds of thousands of followers on social media and we have seen today that many of them truly believe the unhinged hatred that he is spreading.

"We are treating this as a very serious matter which must be met with the firmest of responses."

Karen Pollock, the chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said: "I cannot understand how it is acceptable for someone with nearly 400 000 followers, who influences impressionable young minds, to continue to spout anti-Semitic hate for 12 hours with no intervention from Twitter or the law.

"This stream of racist anti-Jewish posts hurt to the core. There have to be consequences for this sort of incitement. Instead of using his role as a force for good, this rant suggests this musician does the complete opposite."

The tweets have also been condemned by the Antisemitism Policy Trust, who said the messages "inspire further hatred".

A spokesperson said: "This is now rightly a police matter. The vile abuse and failure by social media companies to act underline the importance of the forthcoming Government Online Harms Bill.

"We took action when we saw the abuse and have been in contact with relevant authorities. It should not be continuously left up to charities and members of the public to deal with this content."

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