Government must tackle online abuse
Ten prominent figures from major faiths in the UK have this week together called for the government to urgently bring forward Online Harms legislation to establish accountability for the social media companies when they facilitate abuse and hate online.
In a joint statement, the group state the events of recent weeks - in which antisemitic abuse from musician Wiley on social media led to the #NoSafeSpaceForJewHate 48 hour boycott - demonstrates the real world harm that can be caused online and call out social media companies for falling short when tackling racist, antisemitic, Islamophobic and anti-Hindu hate.
Paul Parker, Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain, supported the statement and said, “No-one should be subject to hatred and abuse, online or in real life. Those who seek to divide us from our fellow human beings should not be provided with a platform to do so unchallenged. Alongside people of many faiths, Quakers call on the UK Government to do its duty and regulate this growing threat to peace in our communities."
Laura Marks OBE, Co-founder of Nisa-Nashim, a network of Jewish Muslim women, said, "the horrific antisemitic abuse we have seen on social media in recent weeks is an important reminder that the internet is currently not a safe space for everyone. Social media companies have shown time and time again that their own rules are not enough to prevent online hate and so the UK Government must do what it promised and make the UK the safest place to be online by bringing forward their Online Harms legislation urgently."
Those who seek to divide us from our fellow human beings should not be provided with a platform to do so unchallenged.- Paul Parker for Quakers in Britain
Qarii Mohamed Asim MBE, Chair of the Mosques & Imams National Advisory Board and Senior Imam at the Makkah Mosque said “Powerful though the social media companies are, the government must do more to hold them to account, and urgently. Communities of all races and religions in the UK need systematic changes from the companies, not 'whack-a-mole' reactions."
Iman Atta, the Director of Tell MAMA and Faith Matters said “We have seen and heard first-hand how online harms have affected the mental, emotional and psychological well-being of people whom have been targeted by anti-Muslim hatred and other types of racism and hatred. This is why social media companies have got to step up and stop playing the “have a few credit opportunities to promote your work" freebies to keep organisations on-side and compliant and truly act with swift speed and real leadership on tackling hate on their platforms. They must be held to account."
Rajnish Kashyap, the General Secretary of the Hindu Council UK, said, “Our community experiences anti-Hindu sentiments online every day. If the powerful social media platforms allow hateful content to be monetised and encouraged to attract clicks, this needs to be addressed, not just by their own guidelines that give a gloss of respectability, but by true accountability."
The full text of the letter follows:
“As faith leaders and heads of faith-based organisations we stand in solidarity with all those who have faced abuse and hatred on social media. The events of recent days are another painful reminder of the extent of real world harm that can be caused online.
“The prevalence of racist, antisemitic and Islamophobic hate underlines how the social media companies continue to fall short. We cannot continue to rely on their piecemeal approach to online abuse.
“Today, we are calling on the UK Government to bring forward the Online Harms legislation as a matter of urgency. The UK Government promised to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online but their flagship Online Harm legislation continues to be delayed. This legislation must take us away from a reliance on a reactive approach where the rules are set by the companies. The social media companies must be held to account when they design their services in a way that encourages and facilitates hate."
- Akeela Ahmed MBE, Chair of the Independent Members, the Anti-Muslim Hatred Working Group
- Qari Muhammad Asim MBE, Chair, Mosques & Imams National Advisory Board. Senior Imam, Makkah Mosque
- Iman Atta, Director Tell MAMA and Faith Matters
- The Very Rev Dr Susan Brown, Convener, Faith Impact Forum, The Church of Scotland
- Mark Gardner, Incoming Chief Executive, Community Security Trust
- Rajnish Kashyap, General Secretary, Hindu Council UK
- Laura Marks OBE, Co-Founder, Nisa-Nashim
- Paul Parker, Recording Clerk, Quakers in Britain
- Sally Patterson, Executive Committee, Alliance of Jewish Women and their Organisations
- Julie Siddiqi, Co-Founder, Nisa-Nashim