Like most of us on Twitter, Berlin-based Israeli artist Shahak Shapira had seen his fair share of racist, homophobic and generally hateful tweets on the platform. But instead of merely scrolling past them, he reported more than 300 such tweets for abuse over a span of half a year. He says that Twitter responded to just nine of them (and no, they weren’t removed).
Fed up with the company’s apathetic attitude, he decided that if he was going to be forced to see those tweets, then Twitter should have to see them too. So, armed with stencils and chalk, Shapira went to Twitter’s Hamburg office and sprayed the pavement and street in front of the building with 30 of the choicest tweets he’d encountered.
It’s a powerful statement that speaks to one of Twitter’s biggest problems. While it’s working towards tackling abuse on the platform, there’s clearly a lot more that it can do. As one observer noted, “It’s careless to let this happen to your own product.”
Sadly, the problem is much bigger than that. But Shapira’s act is the kind of commentary we need to see more of if we’re ever going to address the issue of spreading hate online.