Fire in Notre Dam Cathedral gave birth to Islamophobic conspiracy theories

Smoke rose from Notre Dame in Paris on 15th April

While the fire that atrophied Notre Dame on Monday was being contained by firefighters, social media sites Twitter and YouTube strived to take down any conspiracy theory that was being put down by well-known nationalists, as well as anonymous accounts. The conspiracy theories, however, intended to spread Islamophobia.

The officials after investigating the fire made it official that the ongoing repair work at the Notre Dame may have ignited the fire. Not too late after the incident, images and videos of the cathedral on fire quickly spread across different social media platforms. The images and videos were used to put up an Islamophobic description, the narratives that have very successfully gained attention in the past few years.

The falsely spread narrative soon got the attention of nationalists and conservative pundits, who then started to believe that the fire was set on purpose. However, to make the videos more believable and Anti-Islam, anonymous users took help from editing software to push conspiracy theories going against Islam on platforms like Twitter and YouTube. However, their account remained active and were not blocked.

One video that was put up had audio of a man continuously yelling ‘’Allahu Akbar’’ (God is great) over a video of the cathedral on fire. However, the audio is superimposed and it can also be found individually when the user searches for ‘’Allahu Akbar scream’’ on Google. The video has sparked really strong conspiracies and has about 40,000 views but is yet to be taken down from YouTube. The same video was posted on Twitter and had over 2,000 retweets.

“They’re committed to getting more white people to white nationalism, and fanning the flames of Islamophobia is helpful,” – said Sophie Bjork-James, an assistant professor of Anthropology at Vanderbilt University.

She thinks that it is the obligation of these social media platforms to minimize the use of their sites as ‘recruitment megaphones’. She also took notice of Richard Spencer’s, a white nationalist, tweet from Monday saying that the fire “spur the White man into action—to seize power in his countries, in Europe, in the world.”

Twitter refused to directly take down misleading information relating to the fire. A fake CNN account was used to spread fake information by saying that the cathedral was put on fire as an act of terrorism, the account was later suspended. Frequently used social media platforms have become more active in curbing their platforms and have made an effort to remove any type of hate speech, like Islamophobia and white nationalism, recently.

Twitter, after receiving backfire, released a video on Tuesday giving a detailed account of their efforts to remove misinformation and hate speech. The video also showed that the platform had taken down about 38% of all offensive content

Twitter released a report Tuesday detailing its efforts to remove hate speech. The company said that its automated system took down 38 per cent of all abusive material before it reached the eye of the public. They also said that the company will update its policies so they are simpler and easier to understand.

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