Avi Benlolo: Holding social media platforms accountable for anti-Semitism

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Tech giants fail to act on hateful content user reports, digital surveillance reports

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Post-Holocaust anti-Semitism was primarily spread by hate groups using mediums we now deem somewhat archaic, such as flyers and graffiti. Under certain circumstances, as in the case of the German Ernst Zundel, they were able to publish brochures, use answering machines and organize rallies at some remote farms.

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One-on-one direct recruitment into hate groups during these years now seems just as archaic. It took a lot of effort to inspire, cultivate, and introduce a new recruit to a group. For this reason, hate groups – especially neo-Nazis – were relatively few after the Holocaust.

But with today’s postmodern anti-Semitism, inspiration, cultivation and recruitment are happening in droves thanks to the dramatic growth of the Internet and its social media sites. Over the past two decades, and especially the past few years, the World Wide Web has brought together more people than Hitler himself could have imagined, to promote and facilitate false anti-Semitic narratives that inspire a dangerous violence.

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Anti-Semitic False Narratives Inspire Dangerous Violence

The Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) released a report this week accusing social media companies of failing to act against anti-Semitism. Even though there has been a drastic change in the operating guidelines of most social media companies – amid pressure from Jewish communities around the world – the CCDH reported that a whopping 84% of anti-Semitic content documented had not been implemented. “Tech companies are consciously giving a free pass to anti-Jewish hatred and the growing threat to the Jewish community,” the nonprofit said.

His recommended solutions include hiring and training more moderators by the platforms to eliminate hate, and holding those platforms accountable if they fail to remove such comments.

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Since 2014, I have argued in these pages and as a member of a parliamentary committee that in order to fight online hate, we need to hold social media companies to account. The only way social media operators will be held accountable is if they are fined for not taking action in removing hateful content. The fact that 84% of anti-Semitic 9/11 conspiracy theories and outrageous claims that Jews are responsible for COVID-19 and in control of world affairs are left on social media should scandalize civil society.

Ironically, our biggest and most important front against anti-Semitism and all forms of hate is the Internet. For this reason, The Abraham Global Peace Initiative has struck up a conversation with experts in artificial intelligence and internet marketing to form a Global Internet Hate Task Force. We must capture the hearts and minds of Silicon Valley to create algorithms and foster creative approaches to strike a blow at hate-mongers.

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According to the CCDH, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter allow the use of hashtags for anti-Semitic content such as #rothschild, #fakejews and #killthejews, all of which have more than 3.3 million impressions. One is too much. While once a neo-Nazi flyer hardly attracted anyone’s attention, today’s hatred permeates millions of homes via the internet, infecting children and young adults and thus creating a new generation of hateful.

Germany has acknowledged this problem and the general growth of anti-Semitism, this week announcing an investment of more than $ 40 million in research and the search for solutions to the problem. But frankly, we’re running out of time.

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Every day dozens of anti-Semitic incidents are reported around the world. Once again this week, England’s Tottenham Hotspurs football team were “appalled” by radio hosts who did not dispute an anti-Semitic comment made to the club’s Jewish president by an interlocutor. In France and Germany, protests against COVID-19 have given way to a rise in extremism and, by extension, an increase in anti-Semitism. And the other day, a Democratic politician in Ohio who lost a primary race to a rival supported by members of the Jewish party claimed that she “did not lose this race” but that “the evil money had manipulated and slandered this election “.

Frankly we’re running out of time

More troubling about postmodern anti-Semitism is not simply the online regurgitation of old anti-Semitic ducks, but the systematic propaganda campaign to dehumanize Jews as a means of attacking Israel. This justification for anti-Semitism is played out online and in the media as the public is continually fed on lies. Outrageous false stories accuse the Jewish people of genocide and apartheid. The line between fact and fiction is blurring online as social media algorithms become echo chambers.

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These lies and distortions quickly polarize people into extreme positions, increasing levels of anxiety, animosity, fear and hatred. While Adolf Hitler and his minions were able to mobilize millions of people in evil actions through propaganda, the Internet can mobilize billions more.

Ahmed Shaheed, the United Nations special rapporteur on religious freedom, warned in a report to the United Nations General Assembly in 2019 that anti-Semitism is “toxic to democracy.” It constitutes “a threat to all societies if it is not addressed,” he said. The time to act is now.

Avi Abraham Benlolo is the founder and chairman of The Abraham Global Peace Initiative.

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