British politicians are calling for racist trolls to be banned from social networking sites, the Guardian reports
The suggestion comes in a new report by MPs looking at rising anti-Semitism in the UK and what can be done to tackle it.
The report singles out social media as a fertile breeding ground for hate speech — citing “Hitler Was Right” trending worldwide on Twitter, and anti-Semitic messages frequently sent to politicians and others on the social networking site.
To combat this, the report recommends the use of “prevention orders” that would stop the alleged trolls’ access to certain websites. Similar rules are already in place in Britain to combat antisocial activity (they’re called AntiSocial Behaviour Orders, or ASBOs) like vandalism or drunk and threatening behaviour, and can ban people from doing certain things or going to certain places.
The report does not suggest blanket Internet bans for offenders — though it doesn’t rule them out either. It recommends using the way sex offenders are dealt with as a model for treating anti-Semitic trolls. This involves “banning or blocking individuals from certain aspects of Internet communication.” In regards to anti-Semitic trolling, this would almost certainly mean bans from social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.
At this stage, it’s just a recommendation. It’s calling for the Crown Prosecution Service to undertake a review “to examine the applicability of prevention orders to hate crime offences and if appropriate, take steps to implement them.”
But even so, it’s illustrative of how serious the issue of online harassment has become. Almost all public figures who are on social media will experience online abuse and trolling at some point. Twitter’s CEO Dick Costolo recently promised his employees that Twitter would crack down on abuse on the platform. In a leaked memo, he said he’s taking “personal responsibility” for the problem.
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