Twitter says sorry for slow reaction to Wiley’s anti-Semitic posts

Published: 14:03 BST, 29 July 2020 | Updated: 17:18 BST, 29 July 2020

Twitter has said sorry for being slow to react over Wiley’s anti-Semitic posts as the grime star insisted he’s not racist and the row was with his Jewish manager.

The musician, whose real name is Richard Cowie, was widely condemned for a series of posts on the social media platform starting on Friday, and was initially given a temporary ban, with the majority of his tweets remaining visible.

But Twitter said today it had permanently suspended him and is ‘continuing to assess the situation internally’.

The rapper today denied he is racist and apologised for ‘generalising’, saying the argument should have stayed between him and his manager, John Woolf.

Grime star Wiley, pictured, was permanently suspended from Twitter today six days after his series of anti-Semitic posts sparked a 48-hour walkout by users in protest

Wiley today told Sky News: ‘I just want to apologise for generalising and going outside of the people who I was talking to within the workspace and workplace I work in.

‘My comments should not have been directed to all Jews or Jewish people. I want to apologise for generalising, and I want to apologise for comments that were looked at as anti-Semitic.’

The grime artist claimed his manager is in possession of his MBE, but a spokesperson for Mr Woolf reportedly said the honour has been framed for Wiley and is ‘ready for his collection’.

Wiley said he ‘never felt comfortable’ going to get the MBE, making reference to Britain’s colonial past. 

Wiley, known as the Godfather of Grime, was made an MBE for services to music in 2018.

The Campaign Against Antisemitism has said it will contact the Cabinet Office to ask for Wiley’s MBE to be revoked.

According to Sky News, Wiley said he would be willing to give it up as he ‘never wanted it’.

He told the broadcaster: ‘I never felt comfortable going to get it. Just look at Britain’s colonialism history.’ 

The manager, who is Jewish, said he no longer represents Wiley and has cut ties with the rapper.

Wiley added: ‘I’m not racist, you know. I’m a businessman. My thing should have stayed between me and my manager, I get that.’

Speaking on what he would tell his fans and whether they would be influenced to carry out violent acts against Jewish people, the rapper said he has never been seen committing such acts against Jewish people or the Jewish community.

He went on to describe fans as ‘fickle’, saying he is not ‘current’ and comparing himself to popular rapper Dave, before adding he is ‘at the end’ of his career rather than at the beginning.

Twitter issued a statement after finally bowing to public pressure to kick the star off their platform.

A spokesman said: ‘Upon further investigation, our teams have permanently suspended the account in question for repeated violations of our hateful conduct policy.

‘Let us be clear: hateful conduct has absolutely no place on our service and we strongly condemn antisemitism. We are sorry we did not move faster and are continuing to assess the situation internally. ‘

Wiley’s account, above, was permanently suspended today. Twitter apologised for ‘not moving faster’ and said they are ‘continuing to assess the situation internally’

The company added: ‘We deeply respect the concerns shared by the Jewish community and online safety advocates, and we will continue to work closely with government, NGOs, civil society partners and our industry peers to tackle antisemitism on Twitter.’

The Campaign Against Antisemitism welcomed the news that ‘Twitter has finally listened’, but said the action was ‘too little too late’. 

It said in a statement: ‘It is at least a start for this deeply irresponsible social network.

‘After Twitter’s abysmal response to the blatant ant-Jewish incitement on its platform, last night we decided to literally shine a light on the company and project onto its London headquarters some of the hateful tweets that Twitter permits on its platform.

‘From their pitiful responses to the hate spewed daily on their platform, it is evident that social media companies will stop at nothing to make a profit. It is time for these deeply damaging and irresponsible companies to be held accountable for the hatred they help spread.’

Yesterday the group protested outside the social media company’s London office, projecting on to the building a message that read: ‘Twitter, we are all sick of your mess. CLEAN IT UP!’ 

Wiley shared a series of anti-Semitic posts on the social media site starting on Friday. The comments made on Twitter and Instagram are being investigated by the Metropolitan Police

Social networks have faced criticism for not acting sooner to take down the content, with Downing Street saying their response ‘has not been good enough’.

The Facebook and Instagram accounts of grime star Wiley were finally removed yesterday, after the musician had been suspended from the sites for seven days over the posts.

But Twitter and Instagram’s alleged slowness to act prompted politicians, celebrities and other prominent names to carry out a 48-hour walkout from both platforms, using the hashtag #NoSafeSpaceForJewHate. 

It follows Wiley launching a number of attacks on the Jewish community over the weekend, including posting a video on Friday telling Jews to ‘crawl out from under your little rocks.’ 

He also shared a conspiracy theory to Instagram about Jews funding and creating the Klu-Klux Klan, which still appears on his page despite claims from the social media platform that they have deleted hate speech content from his account.

Metropolitan Police are investigating the comments made on Twitter and Instagram, which prompted Wiley’s management company to severe ties with him.  

Yesterday the Campaign Against Antisemitism protested outside Twitter’s London office, projecting a message onto the social media company’s building

Wiley also took aim at Priti Patel during his two-day rant, after the Home Secretary described his anti-Semitic posts as ‘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,’ she said.

Marie van der Zyl, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said: ‘It appears that Twitter has now suspended the account of Richard Cowie, or Wiley, six days after he began an extended anti-Semitic rant and nearly all the way through a 48-hour walkout from Twitter by the Jewish community and its allies.

‘Instagram was also slow on this, deleting his profile only yesterday. It is just not good enough. Social media companies have not been strong or fast enough about tackling racism, misogyny or homophobia.

‘We will be talking to Twitter today, and other social media companies and government partners over the coming days, to make sure this does not happen again. There must be #NoSafeSpaceForJewHate.’

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News – Twitter says sorry for slow reaction to Wiley’s anti-Semitic posts

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