Twitter walkout: Celebrities and politicians begin 48-hour boycott after Wiley's anti-Semitic tirade

27 July 2020, 08:30

Wiley was roundly condemned for his tweets attacking Jewish people
Wiley was roundly condemned for his tweets attacking Jewish people. Picture: Getty

By Ewan Somerville

Celebrities, politicians and high-profile campaigners are set to begin a 48-hour “walkout” from Twitter after an anti-Semitic tirade from the rapper Wiley stayed online for hours. 

Leading names staging the protest have accused the social media giant of turning a blind eye to the “venomous” succession of offensive tweets from Wiley’s account over the weekend. 

The 41-year-old, known as the “godfather of grime”, posted anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and insulted Jewish people on his Twitter and Instagram accounts, which combined have more than 940,000 followers.

Police have launched an investigation and he has been handed a temporary ban from both sites and dropped by his agent. 

On Sunday Home Secretary Priti Patel demanded a “full explanation” from Twitter and Instagram into why Wiley’s “abhorrent” posts remained online for “so long” before being removed.

Maajid Nawaz pulls apart Wiley's anti-semitic tweets

Some of the offensive tweets remained live 12 hours after they were first posted, prompting critics to accuse Twitter of “ignoring anti-Semitism”. 

Now singer Jessie Ware, the actress Tracy-Ann Oberman and a host of other soap stars, actors, academics and politicians have all pledged to boycott Twitter for 48 hours, starting from 9am on Monday.

They are backed by the group Campaign Against Antisemitism, which condemned Twitter for “deciding to allow a racist to continue to use their platforms” to spread hate.

A spokesperson said in a statement: “Wiley has been tweeting and Instagramming vile antisemitism including calling for Jews to be shot and for ‘black people’ to go to ‘war’ with Jews.”

“Instead of acting immediately to close down Wiley’s accounts, Twitter and Facebook have decided to protect this racist, with Twitter deleting only a few token tweets and leaving most of Wiley’s incitement to racial hatred online,” the group added. 

The group said it was “heartened to see so many decent people standing with us” in waging the boycott. 

Tweeting his support for the protest, Stephen Pollard, editor of the Jewish Chronicle newspaper, accused Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey of “refus[ing] to act against Jew hate… You enable the likes of @WileyCEO to spread their poison. You choose to allow it on here.”

Luciana Berger, who quit the Labour Party last year accusing it of failing to tackle anti-Semitism within its ranks, has also said she will join the walkout. "Twitter's inaction over the past few days has been shameful. It's enough. If you think so too, join us on Monday," she tweeted.

Those taking part in the boycott are using the hashtag #NoSafeSpaceForJewHate and changing their profile pictures to yellow gagged faces to rally others to join. 

In his series of tweets over the weekend, Wiley asserted that Jews systematically exploited Black artists in the music industry, calling them “cowards”. In one tweet, which was deleted, he likened Jews to the Ku Klux Klan.

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".