London Mayor Sadiq Khan has blamed social media platforms for the rise of hate speech, calling on tech companies to do more in combatting the issue.
Mr Khan, delivered a moving plea on Twitter during the annual SXSW conference in Austin, Texas on Tuesday (AEDT), reading racist tweets about himself.
Mr Khan, the first Muslim mayor of London, warned of the damage these sorts attacks could have on minority children, and the negative experience social media misuse is having on women.
“I say kill the mayor of London and you’ll be rid of one Muslim terrorist,” Mr Khan read.
“I don’t read this out to be portrayed as a victim but I worry about what happens when young boys and girls from minority backgrounds see this kind of thing on their social media timelines or experience it themselves.
Language warning: Khan reads out racist tweets
It’s time to act on hate speech.
— Mayor of London (@MayorofLondon) March 12, 2018
“And what about young girls and women who have been driven from these platforms reversing our long fight for gender equality.”
Mr Khan also urged social media platforms to show “a stronger duty of care” in curtailing hate speech.
“Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have brought huge benefits to society, but also significant challenges,” he said.
“We’ve already seen evidence of elections and referendums being influenced. A rise in extreme propaganda and online abuse, misogyny and religious hatred. Fake news spreading disinformation. Algorithms blinkering us from different points of view and pushing people to extremes.
“And terrorists and far right groups using social media to not only inspire but to radicalise and brainwash others.
“All of this dividing us rather than uniting us.”
During his SXSW speech, Mr Khan offered a few recommendations to force tech companies to take hate speech more seriously, suggesting stricter regulations, including large fines, if they don’t remove offensive content and misinformation faster.
The suggestion follows Germany’s new law that gives social media platforms just 24 hours to decide if something is hate speech.
“It’s on all of us to tackle this problem. Social media companies, governments, politicians and media, and you,” Mr Khan said in the Twitter video.
“Let’s work together to end this hate.”