NEWS

Twitter Wouldn't Remove Abusive Tweets, Activist Painted Them On Company's Doorstep

11/08/2017 07:03 SAST | Updated 11/08/2017 07:03 SAST

Twitter has been a breeding ground for hateful trolls since its inception, and because the company isn't making major strides to fix this problem, one activist decided to send a powerful message.

A German-Israeli activist/comedian, Shahak Shapira, headed to Twitter's corporate headquarters in Hamburg, Germany, and spray-painted some of the hate speech he's encountered on the social network.

He's uploaded a video of the protest on YouTube titled "#HEYTWITTER."

Shapira says he was driven to go to these extremes after seeing how little Twitter listened to what he reported. Shapira had reported "about 150 comments to Facebook, of which 80 percent were removed" in a mere one to three days. He also reported "more than 300 tweets to Twitter."

"For that, I received only nine answers over the last six months. Each of them stating there was no violation of Twitter's rules," he said in the video detailing his protest. "All other reports were left unanswered. I haven't received a single [piece of] mail telling me a tweet was actually removed."

Shapria said that if "Twitter forces me to see these things" ― things being the homophobic, racist, anti-Semitic and sexist tweets ― "then they'll have to see them too."

For the protest, Shapira put together massive stencils of some of the tweets he reported and used chalk-based spray paint to plaster the front of Twitter's Hamburg office with the sentiments.

Youtube

"The statements I reported weren't just plain insults or jokes, but absolutely serious threats of violence," Shapira says in the video.

HuffPost has reached out to Twitter for comment. A spokesman did tell CNN Tech that the social media platform "strictly enforces rules where appropriate and allow users to mute or block accounts themselves." A statement sent to The New York Times indicated the company will "continue to review and iterate on our policies and their enforcement."

The stenciled tweets were mostly removed by a street cleaner not long after they were painted, but many of the actual tweets that were reported, and subsequently stenciled, remain on the site, according to the Times.

"Others, however, have either been blocked in Germany or been removed entirely," the publication said.

Shapira says in his #HEYTWITTER video that he knows his protest "will never be big enough to visualize the amount of hate tweets on Twitter."

"But," he added, "maybe we can at least give them some food for thought."