Justin Welby: 'Ban racist and antisemitic trolls online'

The Archbishop of Canterbury makes use of Twitter and other social media, but says there are better ways to solve arguments.Reuters

The Archbishop of Canterbury called on social media sites to crack down on antisemitic abuse online.

Archbishop Justin Welby said Facebook and Twitter must do more to prevent the proliferation of racism and antisemitism on their sites.

The Archbishop was speaking in advance of a report today that calls for "internet Asbos" to ban "determined" abusive social media users from certain sites.

The report by the all-party parliamentary inquiry into antisemitism calls on the Crown Prosecution Service to investigate whether prevention orders similar to those already used against sex offenders could be used against online trolls.

Recent reports of a rise in antisemitism in Britain revealed that "Hitler" and "Holocaust" were among the top 35 key words used on Twitter last summer including the trending topic "#Hitlerwasright".

The report says: "There is an allowance in the law for banning or blocking individuals from certain aspects of internet communication in relation to sexual offences.

"Informal feedback we have received from policy experts indicates that this is a potential area of exploration for prosecutors in relation to hate crime.

"If it can be proven in a detailed way that someone has made a considered and determined view to exploit various online networks to harm and perpetrate hate crimes against others then the accepted principles, rules and restrictions that are relevant to sex offences must surely apply."

David Costolo, chief executive of Twitter, wrote in a recent memo that Twitter must start "kicking these people off right and left."

Ephraim Mirvis, the Chief Rabbi, said the report could not come at a more opportune time.

He added: "The threat against the Jewish community is real and anxiety remains high following recent events in France and elsewhere."

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: "The Government has introduced a range of measures to ensure Britain provides a safe environment for Jewish people and these figures are a depressing reminder that there is still much work to be done."

Gideon Falter, chairman of the Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: "Clearly education and interfaith work are important to ensure that more British people are not lured into antisemitism, but surely the greatest priority is to re-establish deterrence with zero-tolerance law enforcement, which requires police and CPS resources above all else, and a firm plan against antisemitic hate crime along the lines that we presented to the Home Secretary and which is now in advanced discussions."

Archbishop Welby recently said Twitter was not the best place to have a row, and that in some ways it is one of the worst because it does not allow visible facial expressions and body language. He said in a blog post that if you want to tell someone off, the answer is not to tweet angrily to them but instead put an arm around their shoulder and show them your tears. Electronic media has no "volume control", he warns. "Electronic media breaks through locked doors, and pierces people painfully."