Is Twitter Really Banning People For Using the Star of David?

Some users on Twitter reported that they'd been locked out of their Twitter accounts for using the Star of David on the social media platform, with "hateful imagery," cited as the reason. The company said that some of the accounts that were locked were by mistake, and the company does not identify the Star of David as a hateful symbol.

In a statement, Twitter clarified that even though it didn't consider the Star of David a hateful symbol, the "yellow star" or "yellow badge" have been used negatively against Jewish people on the platform. "We have for sometime seen the 'yellow star' or 'yellow badge' symbol being used by those seeking to target Jewish people," the company said. Jewish people were forced to wear yellow badges by Nazis during World War II.

We want to clarify some questions about hateful imagery on Twitter. We categorically do not consider the Star of David as a hateful symbol or hateful image. We have for some time seen the 'yellow star' or ‘yellow badge’ symbol being used by those seeking to target Jewish people.

— Twitter Public Policy (@Policy) July 22, 2020

In the thread, Twitter explained that its policy "prohibits the promotion of violence against-or threats of attack towards-people on the basis of categories such as religious affiliation, race and ethnic origin." The company continued that even though some of the locks were mistakes, most of the instances were "correctly actioned." The company also thanked the Campaign Against Antisemitism, Anti-Defamation League, and Community Security Trust.

While the majority of cases were correctly actioned, some accounts highlighted recently were mistakes and have now been restored.

We're grateful to @antisemitism @ADL @CST_UK and others for bringing this to our attention and for their partnership in tackling antisemitism.

— Twitter Public Policy (@Policy) July 22, 2020

The Campaign Against Antisemitism said that Twitter was locking accounts, deeming the symbol "Hateful Imagery" on Monday. In a statement, the organization called on Twitter to reinstate the accounts and take action against antisemitism. People on Twitter began sharing screenshots of users who were locked out of their accounts, and many others changed their profile pictures to the Star of David in solidarity.

Just changed my background to that of @Racharley77’s icon photo. She was blocked by Twitter for ‘hateful imagery’ - a cute cartoon character and a #starofdavid. I also updated my profile - added a special hashtag to define the outrage. #AmYisraelChai - #TwitterSucks!!

— Jay Engelmayer (@jengelmayer) July 21, 2020

I read an article that says Twitter is marking the Star of David as hateful. I am a Christian who loves the Jewish people and know our Republic was founded on Judeo Christian principles.

So. How do you like my new profile pic?

— Deplorable Patriot (@vrc5223) July 22, 2020

Campaign Against Antisemitism Director of Investigations and Enforcement Stephen Silverman still called on Twitter to take further action and step up against antisemitism, citing another controversy that the CAA addressed.

"Only one of the accounts locked featured a yellow star, and it very clearly did so as a means of reclaiming the yellow stars used by the Nazis. This is precisely the kind of inept response to antisemitism that we have come to expect from Twitter, which just last week tried to convince us that the viral antisemitic #JewishPrivilege hashtag was legitimate. We would happily help Twitter, but they largely ignore us when we approach them, which we take as a reflection of their inconsistency in addressing this. It seems that Twitter prefers to go after Jewish users who proudly display their identity but not after antisemitic users who unabashedly promote anti-Jewish vitriol," Silverman said in a statement.

The Twitter logo is seen on a phone in this photo illustration in Washington, DC, on July 10, 2019. Twitter issued a statement saying that it did not consider the Star of David as a hateful image and did lock accounts from users who had used "yellow stars" or "yellow badges" to target Jewish people. Getty/ALASTAIR PIKE/AFP