Tottenham Hotspur said it reported a tweet that directed anti-Semitic abuse towards chairman Daniel Levy following Sunday’s 3-1 defeat against Manchester United. The update comes a day after Spurs reported social media posts directing racist abuse at Son Heung-min.
The tweet targeted at Levy came from a Spurs supporter, who suggested abuse should not be directed towards Son but towards Levy. In the same tweet, the user then directed an anti-Semitic message at Levy specifically. The tweet received a lot of attention when David Lammy, the Member of Parliament for Tottenham, condemned the Twitter user not long after the original tweet was posted. The abusive tweet was eventually taken down, only after Spurs issued a statement of its own.
We have reported this anti-Semitic post to Twitter and the police. Disappointing that the tweet has yet to be deleted. @Twitter needs to take immediate action against racists continuing to post abuse. Our internal review into a best course of action moving forward is under way.— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) April 12, 2021
Spurs have had to issue condemnations of abuse for the third time in the span of eight days, including when Davison Sánchez received racist abuse on social media after the team’s 2-2 draw at Newcastle United. As a result, the club also shared it was undergoing an internal review to determine actions it can take to combat abuse online.
This instance is a classic example of what many ask for when they want social media companies to take action when people use their platforms to send discriminatory messages. Thankfully, the tweet in question is no longer up, but more than 14 hours passed in between Lammy’s condemnation and Spurs’ condemnation. I saw the tweet before it was taken down, and it very clearly broke Twitter’s policies on abusive behavior:
Using aggressive insults with the purpose of harassing or intimidating others
We take action against excessively aggressive insults that target an individual, including content that contains slurs or similar language. Please also note that while some individuals may find certain terms to be offensive, we will not action against every instance where insulting terms are used.
Encouraging or calling for others to harass an individual or group of people
We prohibit behavior that encourages others to harass or target specific individuals or groups with abusive behavior. This includes, but is not limited to; calls to target people with abuse or harassment online and behavior that urges offline action such as physical harassment.
It begs the questions: Why do Twitter’s policies exist if it takes that long for a relatively high profile case of abuse to, at the very least, be scrubbed from the platform? How much longer would it take if the target of abuse was not well-known individual, supported by a club with 5.8 million followers on Twitter?