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July 24, 2013

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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