SHAFAQNA- Muslim-American candidates, including Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, endured torrents of hateful, xenophobic and threatening tweets during last year’s campaign season, according to a study released on Tuesday, Washington Post reported.
The study, by the Social Science Research Council, analyzed 113,000 Twitter messages directed at Muslim candidates. Much of Tweets using offensive words amplified through bots and other fake accounts. Tweets accused candidates of marrying siblings, being terrorists.
The threats and verbal attacks flowed so heavily toward Omar (D-Minn.) that the report categorized more half of all accounts that mentioned Omar as “trolls” because they tweeted or retweeted hateful, Islamophobic or xenophobic content.
The report said that Twitter was responsible for the spread of images and words from a small number of influential voices to a national and international audience.
Many of the tweets cited by the report appear to violate Twitter’s terms of service, which prohibit violent threats and attacks based on religious affiliation, and the researchers found that a large number of the accounts they studied were eventually closed or deleted by the user, which can be a tactic to remove evidence of disinformation campaigns.
Over the weekend, Omar put a spotlight on the threats she had received from other Twitter users, telling the social media giant that the posts about her were “unacceptable.” One tweet had called her a “terrorist” who “should be hanged for treason.”
After reviewing an advanced copy of Tuesday’s report, she called it “a wake-up call.”
“It has become clear that these platforms do not take seriously their role providing a platform for white nationalist hate and dangerous misinformation in this country,” Omar said. “We as a nation need to think seriously about ways to address online threats to our safety and our democracy.”
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas., came to the defense of Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., on Monday and expressed solidarity with Omar amid the viral threats, Fox News Told.
“This is reprehensible,” Cruz tweeted. “Disagree with @IlhanMN on the merits, fine, but death threats to anyone are not a joke.”
Omar later tweeted her thanks to Cruz.
The office of Tlaib, who was born in Detroit to Palestinian immigrant parents, did not respond to a request for comment about the report.
The account for President Trump, @realdonaldtrump, also played an influential role, in part because people seeking to spread anti-Muslim sentiment would direct their messages to Trump, potentially increasing their reach, the report found.
The Minnesota Democrat has said she received an increase in death threats in April after President Trump shared a video that included images of the 9/11 attacks interlaced with some of her comments.
In July, a crowd at a Trump rally in North Carolina chanted, “Send her back” in reference to Omar after the president tweeted that she and other women of color who serve in the House — Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) — should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”, The Hill mentioned.