Twitter welcomes right-wing rallying cry against Srebrenica genocide denial

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In July of last year, as the world marked a quarter of a century since Srebrenica, dozens of tweets came out denying the events of 1995 and their classification as genocide. Most said more than 3,000 Serb civilians were also killed in the region during the war, blaming Bosnian troops led by Naser Oric.

“Europe is blind to the genocide against the Serbs, but #misesjecamo [we remember]! ”said one. Another account, called SerbianMatrix, wrote that“ there was no genocide in Srebrenica but only deaths who should have known not to follow Naser Oric to massacre Serbs ” .

Oric was first convicted of war crimes in Srebrenica and nearby Bratunac, but was later acquitted on appeal in 2008 in The Hague. In 2018, a Bosnian court acquitted him of the murder of three Serbian prisoners in 1992.

While the accounts identified by BIRN condemn Oric, they see Mladic as a hero.

“He defended and saved the Serbian people from aggression by national traitors and NATO,” one tweeted, using the name Yugoslav Alien, in December of last year.

This tweet remains online, but a more recent one, from Gorica Dodik, the daughter of Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik, and stating “Vive Ratko Mladic”, was deleted on the grounds that it violated the rules on “glorification violence “.

In early June, Twitter said it had updated its policies and would not allow violent references to mass killings, violent events, or specific means of violence in which what it calls “categories”. protected “were the main victims.

Twitter did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

David Pettigrew, professor of philosophy at Southern Connecticut State University in the United States, said that while Twitter has broadened the scope and number of so-called “protected groups” with regard to hate speech about the Holocaust and genocide, “implementation seems to be a daunting process.

Noting Twitter’s deletion of Mladic’s tweet by Dodik’s daughter, Pettigrew said it was not clear why the company had failed to act in the case of Dodik’s party ally Rajko Vasic, who June 5 appeared to threaten violence against an elderly Bosnian woman after a church, built in her yard during the war while she was a refugee, was demolished.

One of Vasic’s previous tweets was condemned as a ‘criminal offense’ by the High Representative [Valentin] Inzko because he threatened another genocide, but I don’t think this tweet was ever deleted – probably because it predated current politics, ”Pettigrew told BIRN.

Earlier this year, BIRN published a survey showing that the tools used by social media giants to protect their community guidelines are failing in the Balkans: Posts and accounts that violate the rules often remain available even when violations are acknowledged, while others who remain within these rules may be suspended for no clear reason.

According to BIRN findings, almost half of reports in Bosnian, Serbian or Montenegrin on Twitter focus on hate speech. Every second message reported as hate speech, threats of violence or harassment in the Bosnian, Serbian or Montenegrin language remains online.

One of the reasons may be that the evaluation itself is done first by an algorithm and, if necessary, a human intervene later. BIRN research has shown that things get complicated when it comes to the languages ​​of the Balkans, precisely because of the specificity of the language and the context.

At the time, Twitter told BIRN that it was increasing the use of machine learning and automation to enforce the rules.

“Using technology, over 50% of abusive content applied to our service is proactively highlighted for human review instead of relying on reports from Twitter users,” said a spokesperson for the business.


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