Sadiq Khan has revealed for the first time the online death threats and racist abuse he has received since taking over as Mayor of London.
In a speech to the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Conference in Texas, Khan read out a string of offensive Twitter messages directed at him.
Khan’s main message, ahead of a question-and-answer session hosted by HuffPost’s Editor-in-Chief Lydia Polgreen, was to urge social media giants to take tougher action on hate crime and fake news.
He stressed that he was not revealing the abusive tweets to seek sympathy, but to prove to tech firms that their lack of controls risked deterring BAME [black and minority ethnic] youngsters from entering politics at all.
The Tweets he read out included one in the wake of the acid attacks on London.
Another seized on misleading claims by Donald Trump that Khan had said terrorism was part of living in a busy capital.
And others included calls for violent acts.
The Mayor said: “I could go on and on, but I won’t. I don’t read these out to be portrayed as a victim, or to ask for sympathy.
“But ask yourself this – what happens when young boys and girls from minority backgrounds see this kind of thing on their timelines – or experience it themselves?
“Or someone thinking about becoming a politician? And what about young girls and women who are being driven from these platforms – reversing our long fight for gender equality?”
He later tweeted a video reading out the messages.
In his speech, Khan called on Facebook, Twitter and others to display a “stronger duty of care” towards tackling abuse and misinformation and said cities across the globe must do more to harness the power of the tech revolution.
Khan was subjected to a heavily-criticised Tory campaign during the 2016 Mayoral election, when his rival Zac Goldsmith accused him of having links to Islamist extremists.
Senior London Conservatives slammed Goldsmith for the “dog whistle” racism of his attacks on Khan.
The Mayor, who hit the global headlines when he became the first Mayor to consider withdrawing a licence from cab hire firm Uber, accused politicians of “sitting on their hands” while the tech landscape changes around them.
“There’s been a dereliction of duty on the part of politicians and policy-makers to ensure that the rapid growth in technology is utilised and steered in a direction that benefits us all,” he said.