Katie Hopkins: the viral power of an anti-Muslim falsehood on Twitter

A viral tweet from the far-right commentator Katie Hopkins further demonstrates the need for Twitter to allow users to report content designed to deceive and pass as news.

Hopkins, was, for a brief time, suspended from Twitter for breaching its hateful conduct policies, but the ban was temporary.

The tweet, posted at 9:31 pm on February 23, begins, “Beautiful Indian lady punched in the face by Muslim man in racist attack in Birmingham.”

Credit: Twitter.

Hopkins then offers a partial unattributed quote from Meera Solanki (the woman assaulted), who described how the man, described as Asian in police reports, approached them during dinner, as he “seemed to have a problem with me being an Indian girl with a multi-racial group of friends”.

Ms Solanki was punched and briefly knocked unconscious after attempting to stop the same man from directing his anti-Chinese racism towards her friend Mandy Huang. This individual had followed the women after they had left the restaurant and made comments towards Ms Huang like “take your f****** Coronavirus and take it back home“ and referred to her as a “dirty c***k”.

Katie Hopkins, of course, provides no evidence to show this perpetrator is Muslim, but her use of the hashtag ‘#LittePakistan’ serves two distinct and revealing functions: it racialises and stereotypes that Muslims in Birmingham are Pakistani (despite 8,681 British-Indians in Birmingham self-identifying as Muslim in the 2011 Census); and, from an ideological position, seeks to foster divisions between Indian and Pakistani communities, given her pro-Modi posturings last year regarding Kashmir. She appeared outside of the United Nations in Geneva with David Vance according to an interview with ANI News last September. Some, however, have questioned the veracity of Hopkins claim of speaking inside of the UN building.

Academics have documented, more broadly, how at around the same time, the European far-right had made solidarity visits to Kashmir, even after foreign journalists and politicians had been denied entry, following the scrapping of Article 370, which stripped the state of Jammu and Kashmir of its relative political autonomy, forcing it to abide by the Indian constitution.

This example of racialising Muslims, functions through the deliberate blurring of Asian and Pakistani communities, despite not all Pakistanis identifying as Muslim. In Birmingham alone, just over 6 per cent of British-Pakistanis self-identified with other religions (as 7,177 chose not to state their religion), including 597 Christians, 441 Sikhs, and 213 Hindus in the 2011 Census.

Credit: Nomis.

Racialisation, for other academics, concerns the process of identifying and stereotyping groups through cultural identifiers like religion and comes with spatial and geographic significance for discriminated groups. The idea of racialisation also “relies upon asserted inherentisms, and it reinforces cultural hierarchies and privilege.” Others argue that racialisation impacts Muslim men and women in gendered ways, as “Men are more likely to be viewed as if they are disloyal and a threat to national security.” Whereas for Muslim women, they argue, the hijab is ‘othered’ as a cultural oddity or threat, raising questions about national identity and loyalty. Discrimination in housing in education creates the racialisation of geographical space

Other examples of anti-Chinese and anti-East Asian racism following the coronavirus outbreak have included physical acts of violence, racial bullying in schools, discrimination (on public transport and in places of work), and microaggressions where individuals have moved away from them on public transport. Several universities have issued press releases condemning racism against their students.

A spokesperson for the Birmingham Chinese society has stated that abuse has always existed but some were using the virus as a pretext for racial harassment, abuse, and violence.

She explained: “We wear masks to protect others from our coughs and sneezes. Some wear them as protection against pollution. Some women wear them because they don’t want to be seen without make-up. We do it to protect others, not ourselves.”

Anyone with information about this ssault is urged to contact West Midlands Police by quoting the crime reference number 20BW/39330Q/20 if you have information about the assault by calling 101 anytime, or by using their Live Chat function (8 am to midnight).









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Categories: Fake News, Katie Hopkins, News

Germany’s leaders look to blunt advance of extreme right following mass shooting

Germany’s leaders are struggling to work out how to counter a recent rise in right-wing hate, 75 years after the Nazis were driven from power.

Wednesday’s shooting rampage that began at a hookah bar in the Frankfurt suburb of Hanau was Germany’s third deadly far-right attack in a matter of months and came at a time when the Alternative for Germany, or AfD, has become the country’s first political party in decades to establish itself as a significant force on the extreme right.

In the wake of the latest spasm of violence, Chancellor Angela Merkel denounced the “poison” of racism and hatred in Germany, and other politicians similarly condemned the shootings.

The rampage followed October’s anti-Semitic attack on a synagogue in Halle and the killing in June of a regional politician who supported Mrs Merkel’s welcoming policy toward migrants.

But Germany’s top security official, interior minister Horst Seehofer, said the trend goes back further, noting a 2016 attack on a Munich mall against migrants and a years-long cross-country killing spree against foreigners by a group calling itself the National Socialist Underground.

“Since the NSU and the rampage in Munich through today, an extreme-right trail of blood has run through our country,” he said.

Extremism is no new phenomenon in modern-day Germany, where the Red Army Faction and other radical-left groups waged a campaign of kidnappings and killings from the 1970s through the 1990s, and where some of the key September 11 plotters lived and schemed before heading to the US to attend flight school ahead of the 2001 attacks.

Germany has strict laws prohibiting any glorification of the Nazis, with bans on symbols like the swastika and gestures like the stiff-armed salute, and denial of the Holocaust is illegal.

But security officials have frequently been accused of being “blind in the right eye”, for intentionally or inadvertently overlooking some far-right activity.

That was said to be the case with the NSU, which was able to kill 10 people, primarily immigrants, between 2000 and 2007 in attacks written off by investigators as organised crime.

It was only after two NSU members died in 2011 in a botched robbery that the group’s activities were uncovered.

Mehmet Gurcan Daimaguler, a lawyer who represented victims’ families at the trial of an NSU member, said German authorities need to give more than “lip service” to fighting racism.

“We haven’t really begun yet a real fight against neo-Nazis, and one of the reasons, for me, clearly is the victims,” he said.

“The victims of Nazis are not members of the German middle class, but Muslims, migrants, LGBT people, immigrants.

“As long as the victim pool, so to say, was limited to minorities, it was not considered a real threat for society.”

Mr Seehofer said that has changed, noting increased resources are being devoted to fighting far-right crime, including the addition of hundreds of new federal investigators and domestic intelligence agents.

In addition, stricter laws have been passed, and the Cabinet approved a bill just this week, before the Hanau attacks, to crack down on hate speech and online extremism.

Under the bill, which is awaiting passage in parliament, internet companies would have to report a wide range of hate speech to police, and retweeting such material to a wide audience, or explicitly condoning it publicly, could be subject to prosecution.

“We are not blind in any eye,” Mr Seehofer said.

Still, with national elections coming next year, politicians are grappling with strategies to confront AfD and blunt its appeal to disgruntled voters.

The AfD does not espouse violence, but many are accusing the party of producing a climate where right-wing extremism can flourish.

The seven-year-old party now has members in all 16 state parliaments and is the largest opposition party nationally, though with less than 13% of the vote in the last election.

“One cannot see this crime in isolation,” said Norbert Roettgen, one of several members of Mrs Merkel’s party hoping to succeed her as chancellor when her term ends next year.

“We need to fight the poison that is being dragged into our society by the AfD and others.”

Alexander Gauland, an AfD leader, accused Mr Roettgen and others of trying to exploit the Hanau violence for political advantage.

“Everything that we know is that it was a totally crazy person,” Mr Gauland said.

The gunman, 43-year-old Tobias Rathjen, posted rambling writings and videos online ahead of the attacks, advocating genocide and espousing theories about mind control.

Mr Gauland, who once got in trouble for downplaying the Nazi era as a speck of “bird poop” in German history, said Rathjen had probably never heard any of his speeches, and he rejected any connection between the bloodshed and his party’s anti-migrant platform, as did several other AfD leaders.

But Mr Seehofer said the power of words cannot be discounted.

“I can’t deny that a statement that Nazism is a speck of bird poop in history provides this fertile soil,” Mr Seehofer said.

“There are also many other remarks that, in my view, mess up heads, and something bad comes from messed-up heads far too often.”

Holger Muench, head of the BKA, Germany’s equivalent to the FBI, said the threat from mentally disturbed people has grown in recent years, as they latch on to ideas often found online and turn violent.

“The fact that there are mentally ill people in society, that is unchanged for the most part,” he said.

“But the fact that there are mentally ill people with a world view that makes them a risk to serious acts of violence, that is changing.”

No evidence has emerged to link Mr Rathjen to the AfD.

But people in Hanau were quick to suggest at least an indirect connection.

Dieter Hog watched as the police descended upon Rathjen’s house after the shootings and said he did not know his neighbour or what might have motivated him.

“But it might be the seed of Mr Hoecke,” he said, referring to Bjoern Hoecke, an AfD leader who called Berlin’s memorial to the victims of the Nazi Holocaust a “monument of shame”.

And Hatice Nazerzadeh, the woman who shouted at German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier during the candlelight vigil, said that with the party’s ascent, attacks are becoming common.

Parts of AfD are already under close scrutiny by Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, but she said more should be done.

“The core problem is the AfD,” said Ms Nazerzadeh, whose cousin was shot in the head by Rathjen and killed.

“As long as the AfD is legal, racism is legal.”

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Categories: Extreme Right, Germany, Mass Shooting, Nazis, News

‘Institutional squeamishness’ over tackling violent extremism in jails

Violent extremism is “clearly not under control” in jails and there is an “institutional squeamishness” among Government officials to tackle the problem, a former prison governor has claimed.

Ian Acheson, who led an independent review of Islamist extremism behind bars in 2016, made the comments after it is feared a convicted killer allegedly attempted a jihadist attack on prison guards at HMP Winchester.

An improvised weapon in the shape of a blade was found on the prisoner, who is not behind bars for terrorist offences, during a search after the incident.

The PA news agency understands he was afterwards overheard by officers shouting to a fellow inmate in a nearby cell that it was “a J thing” – which it is believed officials are taking to mean jihad or jihadi.

No staff were injured and the incident is not currently being investigated as terror-related.

The news comes amid growing concerns over radicalisation behind bars in the wake of three terror attack in as many months – one of which took place inside a jail while the other two involved convicted terrorists recently released from prison.

Speaking on Radio 4’s World at One programme, Mr Acheson said violent extremism was “clearly not under control inside prisons” and “presents a lethal threat” both inside and outside jails.

He said prison staff are “increasingly being confronted with a lethal extremist-inspired threat for which they are patently not equipped to deal with”, adding: “I think there is an institutional squeamishness at the top of the prison service to deal with this problem which unfortunately has now led to the situation that we see where we have got violent extremism that is at best delayed inside custody and at worst weaponised.”

Meanwhile Jonathan Hall QC, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, suggested keeping prisoners behind bars for longer could “expose them to worse influences” than if they were released.

In the published analysis on the emergency laws the Government has proposed to keep terrorists behind bars for longer, he warned the changes could create a “cliff edge” when offenders are instead freed without any restrictions at the end of their sentence.

There had been “foot dragging” over bringing in changes to tackle the problem, Mr Acheson claimed, adding that he was not convinced all recommendations for improvements he had made – such as ensuring prison imams had faced security checks – had been implemented.

Xeneral Imiuru had been segregated in the prison over concerns of violent behaviour towards staff, PA understands.

It is thought prison officers attended his cell in the segregation unit to check on his condition after he was seen lying on the floor.

But a struggle took place after he was found to be conscious.

The 20-year-old, also known by the surname Webster, was the first person to be convicted of an acid attack killing and was jailed for 17 years in 2018.

He pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Joanne Rand, a 47-year-old carer for dementia patients.

The innocent bystander had been visiting her daughter’s grave when she was hit with the high-strength sulphuric acid which Imiuru had armed himself with and was knocked out of his hand during a row with another man nearby.

The mother-of-three had 5% burns on her body and died 11 days later from multiple organ failure after contracting septicaemia.

A Prison Service spokesman said: “Police are investigating an incident at HMP Winchester on February 13.

“Violence against our hard-working staff will not be tolerated and those responsible will face tough punishment, including more time behind bars.”

The POA, formerly known as the Prison Officers’ Association, called for the investigation to be carried out “quickly” and said questions were being asked over how inmates might have access to weapons, particularly in segregation.

Hampshire Constabulary said an investigation was in its early stages as the incident was only reported to police on Tuesday.

It is understood officials contacted the force on Monday after the incident was initially reviewed by an internal adjudicator who deals with prison discipline matters.

Earlier this month Sudesh Amman wore a fake suicide belt as he grabbed a knife from a shop in Streatham High Road, south London, on Sunday, before stabbing two bystanders.

The 20-year-old had been jailed for possessing and distributing terrorist documents in December 2018, but was freed automatically halfway through his sentence less than a fortnight ago.

He was put under 24-hour police surveillance on his release after it is understood security services regarded him as an “extremely concerning individual”.

Two inmates wearing fake suicide belts stabbed a prison officer at maximum security jail HMP Whitemoor in January.

Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt were killed by Usman Khan in November when he launched his attack armed with two knives and wearing a fake suicide vest during a prisoner rehabilitation programme near London Bridge – nearly a year after he was released halfway through a 16-year jail sentence for terror offences.

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Categories: Ian Acheson, Institutional squeemishness, Jails, News, Prison, violent extremism

Fair Cop founder wins partial court victory over transgender ‘hate incidents’

Humberside Police unlawfully interfered with a man’s right to freedom of expression by turning up at his place of work over his allegedly “transphobic” tweets, the High Court has ruled.

Former police officer Harry Miller, 54, who founded the campaign group Fair Cop, said the police’s actions had a “substantial chilling effect” on his right to free speech.

Mr Miller, who is from Lincolnshire, claims an officer told him that he had not committed a crime, but that his tweeting was being recorded as a “hate incident”.

The College of Policing’s guidance defines a hate incident as “any non-crime incident which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice against a person who is transgender or perceived to be transgender”.

In a ruling on Friday, the High Court in London found Humberside Police’s actions were a “disproportionate interference” with Mr Miller’s right to freedom of expression.

But Mr Justice Julian Knowles rejected a wider challenge to the lawfulness of the College of Police guidance, ruling that it “serves legitimate purposes and is not disproportionate”.

The judge said: “The claimants’ tweets were lawful and there was not the slightest risk that he would commit a criminal offence by continuing to tweet.

“I find the combination of the police visiting the claimant’s place of work, and their subsequent statements in relation to the possibility of prosecution, were a disproportionate interference with the claimant’s right to freedom of expression because of their potential chilling effect.”

At a hearing in November, Mr Miller’s barrister Ian Wise QC said his client was “deeply concerned” about proposed reforms to the law on gender recognition and had used Twitter to “engage in debate about transgender issues”.

He argued that Humberside Police, following the College of Policing’s guidance, had sought to “dissuade him (Mr Miller) from expressing himself on such issues in the future”, which he said was “contrary to his fundamental right to freedom of expression”.

The judge said Mr Miller strongly denies being prejudiced against transgender people, and regards himself as taking part in the “ongoing debate” about reform of the Gender Recognition Act 2004, which the Government consulted on in 2018.

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Categories: Fair cop founder, hate crime, hate incident, Humberside Police, News, Right to Freedom of Expression, Transphobic tweets

Football fans harass Muslim mother and daughter, pour beer on their car, near St Andrew’s stadium

A mother described her terror after eight football fans harassed her and her teenage daughter, which ranged from pouring beer on their windscreen and sitting on their car bonnet, to mocking their religion and even attempting to enter their vehicle, as they drove close to St Andrews stadium following the Championship fixture between Birmingham City and Nottingham Forest on February 1.

Speaking to Tell MAMA, the mother, who wishes to remain anonymous, stated that throughout the incident, she beeped her horn, hoping to draw the attention of the home fans or the safety team of Birmingham City Football Club, but no individuals intervened.

The car was only able to move at a much reduced speed, due to the size of the crowd, and owing to a fault in one of the doors, one of the men had opened it, but was unable to enter.

She had driven in the area unaware of the closures, adding, that when the group of men saw that both her and daughter wore hijabs, some began to laugh and mockingly prostrated on the ground before sitting on their car bonnet.

After the group’s ringleader had poured his beer on their windscreen, she wound her window down and overheard a passerby chastise the action, not for its anti-Muslim and Islamophobic intent, but rather, for ‘wasting’ expensive beer.

Throughout this ordeal, the group of men filmed the woman and her daughter, compounding their fears and anxieties. She described all the men involved as being white and in their late teens or early twenties.

Tell MAMA continues to highlight more broadly, the often gendered dynamic of such abuse which demonstrates the importance of viewing such incidents through an intersectional lens.

The targeting of Muslims for their religiosity has, as some academics contend, is an essentialist way to view Muslim identity (or Muslimness). Or, in short, it becomes a form of ‘othering’, as the visible markers of their faith are seen as embodying “all that is perceived to be wrong, problematic and threatening about Islam and Muslims”, or reflect enduring racialised and misogynistic stereotypes about the apparent ‘meekness’ of Muslim women.

Once home, the family contacted West Midlands Police, after turning their vehicle around and leaving the scene.

There are, however, some frustrations with the manner of the investigation thus far. The mother has expressed concerns about the ‘hostile attitude’ of one officer after they questioned why the family had not contacted them in the immediacy, which the mother challenged, stating that her priority was their safety. Nor were they aware that the force had flagged the incident initially as a racist, not Islamophobic hate crime until the Birmingham Mail investigated.

Since the incident, the mother has experienced blurred vision and felt extra tense and is taking paracetamol each day to reduce it.

A spokesperson for Birmingham City Football Club confirmed that the matter is being investigated further and told Tell MAMA: “As a club, we abhor any type of racism and anti-social behaviour, and we are very sorry that the family had to endure something like this.”

Anyone with information concerning this hate crime is encouraged to contact West Midlands Police, quoting reference 20BW/30467Y/20. Or, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

You can get advice from our confidential and free helpline on 0800 456 1226. Or through our free iOS or Android apps. Report through our online form. Or contact us via WhatsApp on 0734 184 6086.




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Categories: Birmingham, hate crime, misogyny, News, West Midlands Police

Russia ‘relentlessly persecuting Jehovah’s Witnesses’ as more than 200 blacklisted

Russian authorities have added more than 200 Jehovah’s Witnesses to a register of extremists and terrorists, the organisation said.

The latest move in a crackdown on the religious group effectively cuts them off from the country’s financial system, as being on the list leads to bank accounts being frozen and severe restrictions on any financial transactions.

Russia officially banned Jehovah’s Witnesses in 2017 and declared the group an extremist organisation.

The Kremlin has actively used vaguely worded extremism laws to crack down on opposition activists and religious minorities.

Since then, hundreds of members have been subjected to raids, arrests and prosecution.

Twenty-four members of the organisation have been convicted, nine of whom have been sentenced to prison, and more than 300 people are currently under criminal investigation.

Most of the blacklisted believers have not been convicted yet but are under investigation, the Jehovah’s Witnesses said.

Jarrod Lopes, a spokesman for the Jehovah’s Witnesses world headquarters in the United States, said Russian authorities are “vilifying Jehovah’s Witnesses, crippling them from caring for their basic needs”.

“Clearly, Russia has effectively reinstated its darkest period of history by relentlessly persecuting Jehovah’s Witnesses, as did its intolerant Soviet predecessors,” Mr Lopes said.

The register, available on the website of Rosfinmonitoring, Russia’s financial intelligence agency, currently contains more than 9,500 names.

It does not state a person’s affiliation with an organisation.

The Associated Press (AP) was able to identify at least two dozens Jehovah’s Witnesses on the list.

Rosfinmonitoring officials would neither confirm nor deny blacklisting Jehovah’s Witnesses to AP, saying that they add people to the register based on the information law enforcement provides them with.

The crackdown on members of the group continues despite a promise by Russian President Vladimir Putin to look into “this complete nonsense”.

“Jehovah’s Witnesses are Christians too, so I don’t quite understand why persecute them,” Mr Putin said at a meeting with the Presidential Council for Human Rights in 2018.

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Categories: Jehovah's, Jehovah's Witnesses, News, Russian Authorities

How far-right fake news continues to go viral on Twitter

A viral and inflammatory falsehood about ‘Muslim-only housing’ in London exemplifies the need for Twitter to fix an enduring problem: removing content designed to deceive and pass as news.

The company has taken welcome steps to counter electoral misinformation but falls short of other platforms in allowing users to flag and report false news stories.


The tweet was posted at 4:36 pm GMT on February 4, by the user @jjsmith1245, claimed that: “The ‘North London MUSLIM Housing Association‘ is building homes for, well, Muslims.  Supported by the Muslim Mayor of London, it looks like an entire little ghetto estate of brand new Muslim-only households is being created.”

Credit: North London Muslim Housing Association (NLMHA)

None of which is true, of course, as the North London Muslim Housing Association, welcomes applicants irrespective of background.

The Canadian far-right website Rebel Media made similar false claims about the North London Muslim Housing Association in July 2017, weeks earlier, the blog post cited by @jjsmith1245 first appeared online.

And the @jjsmith1245 account often shares far-right talking points on Twitter, including perverse anti-Muslim conspiracies such as the obscure concept of Taqiyya, which has also found mainstream credibility in the writings of the Times columnist and author Melanie Phillips.

It gained further traction when it was shared by the former Daily Express columnist and MEP Patrick O’Flynn, who tweeted that, “I’ve never got why ethnically and now religiously exclusive housing associations are permitted,” but was challenged in the replies, including from high-profile figures, including the journalist Fatima Manji and Jonathan Portes, Professor of Economics at King’s College.

The erroneous tweet, from O’Flynn however, was not deleted as instead, a further tweet acknowledged the error, confirming that the housing association does indeed accept all applicants.

This clarification gained little traction when compared to O’Flynn’s original, erroneous tweet, which, as of writing, stands at over 230 retweets.

The original link shared by @jjsmith1245 and others directs users to a blog site called “England’s England” or “Christopher’s England”. For its obscurity, the website has published a plethora of articles steeped in conspiracist, racialised, and hateful content about Muslim and Jewish communities.

The blog cited by @jjsmith1245 first appeared online in June 2017, and, in that same month, another blog piece claimed that Muslim and Jewish communities control ‘most’ of the food chain in the UK, as both faith groups “brought with them the mentality of a return to the Stone Age”.

Years earlier, a blog post described how the notorious Holocaust denier and Nazi apologist David Irving had spent time in prison for “daring to speak freely and express himself and his views about the number of Jews killed during the Holocaust”. Other blog posts recycle the antisemitic canard about Jewish people and the media.

It claims that Islam is a “totalitarian political cult-like ideology” and speaks of “warring religion viruses, born of the inbred desert tribes of the Middle East thousands of years ago”.

One notable invective propagates ideas of resentment and victimhood politics, as it laments perceived examples of individual and social disadvantage, including, that it was legitimate, in their eyes, unfair of others to refer to him as a Brit as shorthand for British, but not to refer to someone of Pakistani background as a “P*ki”. As the previous Tell MAMA report highlighted: “A sense of victimhood underscores this intensification of emotion fuses with the power of myth-making to a broader cultural pessimism which is a feature of mainstream and more obscure far-right and radical right ideologies, and therefore, identifying the digital pathways which connect disparate far-right groups”.

In broader political terms, some academics have argued that a defining feature of the Trump campaign in 2016 was its reliance on ‘white victimised toxic masculinity’ – where segments of his supporters overlooked or disavowed their societal privileges by centring their belief of being ‘disrespected or violated by the political establishment,’ as proof of their apparent exclusion from politics.

The “Christopher England” page has its own Twitter account (@christopher_eng) where anti-Muslim and Islamophobic views are easy to find.

Nor is this the only recent example of old falsehoods gaining traction online.

Where appropriate, Tell MAMA has flagged tweets from the accounts of @christopher_eng and @jjsmith1245 for what it considers breaches of its hateful conduct policies.






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Categories: Fake News, News

Government’s AI adviser calls for tougher regulation of social media

New regulations on social media companies should be tightened to include more transparency around how firms target users online, an independent advisory board on artificial intelligence (AI) has said.

The Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (CDEI) has urged the Government to also focus on online targeting because the public is concerned about how the technology is being used.

In a new report, it said an analysis of public attitudes on the issue found that many appreciated the value of targeting – where platforms use people’s online habits to target them with content they believe will interest them – but were also concerned about the potential for such data to be exploited.

The CDEI has published three sets of recommendations as part of its research, urging the Government to hold any companies which use online targeting to a higher standard of accountability, as well as calling for transparency of online targeting systems to be increased and more control be given to users to edit how they are targeted.

A number of high-profile internet and social media platforms, including Google and Facebook, use different forms of online targeting to show users adverts or other content which they believe will interest users.

CDEI chairman Roger Taylor said: “Most people do not want targeting stopped. But they do want to know that it is being done safely and responsibly. And they want more control.

“Tech platforms’ ability to decide what information people see puts them in a position of real power. To build public trust over the long term it is vital for the Government to ensure that the new online harms regulator looks at how platforms recommend content, establishing robust processes to protect vulnerable people.”

Last year, a White Paper on online harms published by the Government proposed stricter regulation for internet and social media companies, including a statutory duty of care and measures to increase web safety, particularly in protecting young and vulnerable people from illegal content, while making tech giants liable to fines or criminal prosecution if they breach their responsibilities.

According to the CDEI report, only 29% of people trust platforms to target them in a responsible way, and 61% said they were in favour of greater regulatory oversight of online targeting.

Only around a third of those asked (34%) trust internet companies to change their settings when they ask them to.

Last month, a separate report by the Royal College of Psychiatrists said social media giants should be forced to hand over data and pay towards research into their potential harms.

In response to the CDEI research, Dr Bernadka Dubicka, chairwoman of the child and adolescent faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “We completely agree that there needs to be greater accountability, transparency and control in the online world.

“It is fantastic to see the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation join our call for the regulator to be able to compel social media companies to give independent researchers secure access to their data.”

The post Government’s AI adviser calls for tougher regulation of social media appeared first on Faith Matters.

Categories: Centre for Data Ethics, News, Royal College of Psychiatrists, social media companies

Muslim man targeted for his beard and faith by an aggressive driver

The Metropolitan Police are investigating the anti-Muslim and Islamophobic abuse directed towards a Muslim man by another male driver.

The incident occurred on January 24.

Speaking to Tell MAMA, the man agreed to have his story told anonymously and described the moment the perpetrator had left their vehicle in anger, making various anti-Muslim remarks towards him, referencing his ethnicity, beard, and Islamic identity.

The perpetrator escalated further by going face-to-face with the Muslim man, making aggressive comments like “you are Pakistani, what does your religion teach you?”

He was able to record the abuse on his phone before contacting the police when the situation deescalated.

In the previous reporting cycle for 2018, a vast majority of Muslim men reporting verified incidents to Tell MAMA sported beards, and in variations of religious clothing, including thobes.

The racialisation of Muslims, however, harms other religious minorities, including Hindus and Sikhs.

Almost one in 5 verified reports to Tell MAMA last year occurred on transport networks, which includes rail networks, the London Underground, airports, and public and private roads or highways.

Tell MAMA has documented other examples of the targeting of Muslim families and individuals when they are driving, or, have left their vehicle in response to abuse, criminal damage, threats, or harassment.

You can get advice from our confidential and free helpline on 0800 456 1226. Or through our free iOS or Android apps. Report through our online form. Or contact us via WhatsApp on 0734 184 6086.


The post Muslim man targeted for his beard and faith by an aggressive driver appeared first on TELL MAMA.

Categories: hate crime, London, News, racialisation

Boris Johnson Announces Plans to Overhaul Ways of Dealing with Convicted Terrorists

Boris Johnson has said he will announce plans on Monday for “fundamental changes to the system for dealing with those convicted of terrorism offences” following the terror-related incident in south London.

In a statement, the Prime Minister said: “My thoughts are with the injured victims and their loved ones following today’s horrific attack in Streatham.

“I want to pay tribute to the speed and bravery of the police who responded and confronted the attacker – preventing further injuries and violence – and all of the emergency services who came to the aid of others.

“An investigation is taking place at pace to establish the full facts of what happened, and the Government will provide all necessary support to the police and security services as this work goes on.

“Following the awful events at Fishmonger’s Hall in December, we have moved quickly to introduce a package of measures to strengthen every element of our response to terrorism – including longer prison sentences and more money for the police.

“Tomorrow, we will announce further plans for fundamental changes to the system for dealing with those convicted of terrorism offences.”

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Categories: Convicted of terrorism offences, News, Streatham, Terrorist Related offences