A tweet by Dawoodi Bohra Women for Religious Freedom (DBWRF), called “khafz” as it is also known, not harmful to children in video testimony of a mother.
“My daughters have also undergone khafz, and they’re growing up as perfectly as other children of their age. As a mother, I can never do anything to harm them.”
Despite the many complaints that the social media giant had received about the post, Twitter allowed the group to “promote” the post — a paid advertisement — enabling the enhancement of the reach of the tweet.
The message was made available to the timelines of users who do not follow the account or would seek such content out themselves, Breitbart reported.
"My daughters have also undergone khafz, and they're growing up as perfectly as other children of their age. As a mother, I can never do anything to harm them" says Arwa Sohangpurwala, Chartered Accountant, Kolkata.#FCisNotFGM#VoiceOfADawoodiBohraWoman pic.twitter.com/t2MIPAf2Zk
— DBWRF (@dbwrf) September 9, 2018
When alerted to the complaints, Twitter then said it was an “error”. A Twitter spokesman said in a statement it “was approved in error and the decision was immediately overturned by our teams”.
But although Twitter ended the promotion of FGM, the message has remained on the platform. In fact, the group’s Twitter account features many other videos trying to advance the cause of FGM with video testimonies from women and mothers.
Messages from the group advertise FGM as a “harmless religious practice,” with “no sexual intent whatsoever”. The practice is also linked to the notion of purity, “If FC [female circumcision] is banned then only men will be able to attain purity,” one claims.
Many of these mothers residing in the United Kingdom defended the practice as “religious freedom”.
“Does a circumcised man or woman look stranger than the rest? We all know the answer is no. I don’t understand what the fuss is all about,” said journalist Ruqaiyah Esmail, who lives in Britain.
In England, a new FGM case is reported every two hours, while this year, Wales opened its first clinic for victims of the procedure.
FGM has become so widespread in the United Kingdom that campaigns and initiatives to raise awareness have gained traction.
British authorities have routinely failed to prosecute those responsible for the practice, with some 5 391 recorded cases between 2016 and 2017 never prosecuted.
Strangely, support of FGM was promoted on Twitter, while posts from conservative users have been blocked.
The Daily Wire reported that James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas filmed Twitter employees admitting to censoring conservative accounts, including banning them from the network because they do not agree with their political views
In the US Twitter has blocked Republican lawmakers from promoting a campaign advertisement which highlighted the sale of aborted baby parts. In August, Twitter even blocked a congressional campaign video from Republican candidate Elizabeth Heng because she described her parents’ escape from Cambodian communist atrocities.
The American president has meanwhile waded into the persistent censorship against conservatives:
Twitter “SHADOW BANNING” prominent Republicans. Not good. We will look into this discriminatory and illegal practice at once! Many complaints.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2018
Twitter employs “content review agents” whose job is to review content that has been flagged as harmful, offensive, or in violation of Twitter policy, and to ban such messages.
Many conservatives have found their accounts limited for “violations”, while equally strident liberals and Islamists do not appear to have the same problem.
“Tweets from a shadow-banned user still appear to their followers, but don’t show up in search results, or anywhere else on Twitter,” O’Keefe explained.
“Although Twitter presents itself as politically neutral, its culture behind closed doors is one of blatant censorship, systematic bias, and political targeting,” he added.
Olinda Hassan, a Policy Manager for Twitter Trust & Safety, is a Muslim herself. She is responsible for Twitter’s rules and regulations. Hassan is quite clear on how the tech giant operates: “We’re trying to get the shitty people not to show up. It’s a product thing we’re working on.”