Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN-05) criticized Facebook and Twitter for allowing online “hate speech” to reach a “crisis level.”
“We need to create a culture that doesn’t tolerate hate as a normal part of our political discourse. The amount of hate speech that’s allowed to flourish online is at a crisis level,” said Omar.
Her comments were made during a recent day-long summit on combating hate crimes hosted by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison.
Omar said a report that studied her own Twitter mentions found nearly 60 percent of the accounts that mentioned her “used explicit hate speech, whether it was in regards to Islamophobia or anti-immigrant rhetoric.”
“Most of those tweets were from automated accounts. In other words, the hate that is being fueled is coming from a small group of people that are acting as agitators,” she continued. Omar later read from a threatening letter she and her colleagues received, which called her and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI-13) “ragheads” and said, “the only good Muslim is a dead one.”
“So this letter as Keith knows is not a unique one. It’s a regular feature of being a Muslim member of Congress and especially worse when you are a visibly Muslim woman in Congress,” Omar added. “It is true—as members of Congress, we have lots of protection and resources that we can deploy to protect ourselves. What I worry about is the millions of Muslims, refugees and black women around the country who do not have that protection but are identifiable with me.”
She said it has become “clear that these technological platforms do not take seriously their role in providing a platform for white nationalists to spew hate and dangerous misinformation in this country.”
After the forum, Omar said on Twitter that online hate speech “is a threat to our safety and our entire democracy.”
It has become clear that Twitter and Facebook do not take seriously their role in fueling white nationalist hate and dangerous misinformation in this country.
It is a threat to our safety—and our entire democracy. pic.twitter.com/vBTSKAPGzF
— Rep. Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan) November 7, 2019
The freshman congresswoman was one of a number of local law enforcement leaders and elected representatives to participate in the summit, which Ellison said would serve as the basis for a set of recommended changes to statutes surrounding hate crimes. The attorney general suggested creating a program for monitoring online hate speech, as The Minnesota Sun reported.
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Ilhan Omar” by Lorie Shaull. CC BY-SA 2.0. Background Photo “Ilhan Omar” by Ilhan Omar.