Photo courtesy of mommyhuh.com
Forget racism; the trend these days is "twacism," a recently coined term to describe racist attacks launched over Twitter.
UK singer Lily Allen was bombarded with abuse after reporting a soldier's racist tweet to the Ministry of Defense; the 20-year-old "twacist" in question, Harry Wilson, had likened Allen's adopting an African child to "buying shit." Following Allen's report of the tweet, rumours spread that the army intends to discharge Wilson from service.
Racist tweets in connection to the Euro 2012 soccer tournament have been splashed all over headlines recently, too; a "twacist" railed against black players Ashley Young and Ashley Cole after they missed penalty kicks in England's match against Italy. England's Football Association is up in arms over the hate speech, and the London Metropolitan police have launched an investigation to track down the "twacist" behind the screen.
Photo courtesy of hollywoodreporter.com
These are just a couple of recent examples. There are tons out there, many of which dot Schema's front page (how about last week's Daily Dose on fans tweeting their displeasure over the colour of a character's skin in Hunger Games?). There's even a Twitter account named "Twacism" that retweets racist posts.
Twitter doesn't moderate or screen its content, but it does have a set of rules and policies; for instance, violence, threats, pornography and illegal activities are banned. There's also a process for reporting tweets, which are then reviewed by Twitter to determine whether further action needs to be taken.
Recent examples have shown, at least, that reporting "twacists" actually produces results. But I think that there's just something about the lightning-quick, instant-gratification medium of Twitter that emboldens people. Maybe racism is easy to spout when it's through an anonymous, 140-character one-off. On the other hand, this allows people to act as vigilante police officers with just as much ease. Are we entering a new age of tweet-policing?