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July 24, 2013 4

Foul Ball: Hate Speech, Twitter & Baseball

In the past week, the abil­ity to spread hate about eth­nic and reli­gious minori­ties in real time has twice played out on Twit­ter in the con­text of baseball. ryan-braun-twitter-hate

After Mil­wau­kee Brew­ers out­fielder Ryan Braun was sus­pended from Major League Base­ball for the remain­der of this sea­son for using per­for­mance enhanc­ing drugs, some Twit­ter users responded by post­ing dis­tinctly anti-Semitic messages.

Among the tweets that can be found when search­ing for Braun on Twit­ter are:

  • leave it to a jew to cheat the sys­tem, deceive peo­ple, then tar­nish other’s rep­u­ta­tions. Fuck you asshole
  • Ryan Braun jew’d us!
  • Ryan Braun didn’t make a mistake…he cheated, lied about it and than got caught…fuckin jew
  • Of course Ryan Braun was juiced out of his mind. How else could a Jew be that great at any­thing besides accounting

While anti-Semitic tweets about Braun did not start with his sus­pen­sion, the recent tweets fol­low a bar­rage of racist tweets in response to singer Marc Antony’s singing “God Bless Amer­ica” at Major League Baseball’s All-Star game in New York on July 16.

While Anthony is an Amer­i­can cit­i­zen of Puerto Rican descent, numer­ous offen­sive tweets made the rounds, say­ing  “shouldn’t an Amer­i­can be singing God Bless Amer­ica?” and imply­ing that Anthony is actu­ally from Mex­ico or Cuba, gen­er­ally assert­ing  any­one who is Latino in appear­ance is not inher­ently American.

ADL ardently sup­ports the right to free speech, but believes that social media and other Inter­net sites also have an oblig­a­tion to police their com­mu­ni­ties and con­front those who pro­mote anti-Semitism, racism and other forms of hate speech.

Twit­ter has no terms of ser­vice or com­mu­nity stan­dards that address aggres­sive or mali­cious behav­ior on the ser­vice. Addi­tion­ally, Twit­ter does not pro­vide even the most basic “Flag­ging” mech­a­nism for com­plaints which is widely used on the expe­ri­enced plat­forms run by Google and Facebook.

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