Spain: Twitter Accused of Relaying Hate Messages

December 08, 2020
An example of a FuegoAlClero hashtag

On November 24, 2020, the day when Spain celebrated the martyrdom of 127 Catholics killed in hatred of the faith by Republicans in the last century, a “hashtag” - keyword - calling for the burning of Catholic priests, appeared and became viral on Twitter.

“It is forbidden to threaten to use violence against a person or a group of people,” says the Twitter platform in its “moderating rules.” Flexible principles, it seems: the network founded by Jack Dorsey allowed the hashtag #FuegoAlClero, “Burn the clergy,” to be put online in Spain on November 24.

Major tweets that used the hashtag - still online - feature images of flames on the heads of priests, and others calling them “pedophiles” and “thieves,” ACI Prensa reported.

Many users are surprised that a network like Twitter, which has made the fight against hate speech its core business, has not exercised its moderating rights.

Spanish journalist Txomin Perez Rodriguez asks, “I thought @TwitterEspana had tough measures in place against messages that incite hatred. Do they only act against what interests them?” A question worth asking.

Other Twitter users have started using the hashtag #YoApoyoAlClero, which means “I support the clergy,” in response to the hateful comments spilled on the social network daily.

This kind of campaign – because that’s what it is - is helping to increase crimes against Christians and Catholic churches, which are once again on the rise in Europe.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on November 16 released data documenting more than 500 hate crimes against Christians in Europe in 2019, according to non-state sources.

But in France alone, the report presented on January 26 shows 1,052 assaults, 195 destruction of graves, and 791 acts of vandalism against places of worship for the year 2019.

Among the incidents in Spain, the report mentions: attacks on Catholic priests, arson of churches, destruction of images of the Virgin Mary, and the theft of consecrated hosts from tabernacles.