How social media platforms expose young people to ‘widespread’ anti-Semitism

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Anti-Semitism is rampant on social media, with young people being introduced to hateful content through popular platforms such as TikTok and Instagram, a new report has warned.

Research by anti-fascist rights group Hope Not Hate found that young users were introduced to anti-Semitic ideas they were unlikely to encounter elsewhere as major social media companies struggle to purge their content platforms. hateful.

In a word

The research, titled Antisemitism in the Digital Age: Online Antisemitic Hate, Holocaust Denial, Conspiracy Ideologies and Terrorism in Europe, highlighted the role of TikTok and Instagram in introducing a “new generation of social media users” with anti-Semitic ideas.

The researchers said the report’s most disturbing finding is that they were able to find anti-Semitism on each of the nine platforms they explored.

Although the amount of different types of anti-Semitism varies across platforms, they said it was still possible to locate all forms and extremes of anti-Semitism on all platforms.



The TikTok and Instagram logos are displayed on the screens of a phone in this illustrative photo taken in Krakow, Poland on November 14, 2019 (Photo by Jakub Porzycki / NurPhoto)

“Despite a decade of platform discussion and policy changes, there is no platform currently available where anti-Semitism and hate speech in general are not easy to find.”

The report revealed “millions” of results for hashtags related to anti-Semitic conspiracy theories on Instagram, such as #JewWorldOrder, #TheGoyimKnow and #ProtocolsofZion. He also pointed out that conspiracy theorist David Icke and author Michael Jones are active on the platform despite having been suspended by most of the other major social networks.

Meanwhile, on TikTok, content posted under the hashtags #rothschildfamily, #synagogueofsatan, and #soros has been viewed over 25 million times in just six months.

The report also showed how TikTok failed to remove instances of anti-Semitism from its platform. For example, in January 2021, a clip circulated on TikTok in which one person is seen baking a cake and the other comments, “In the oven… say hello to Anne Frank for me”. This clip was shared on TikTok with an approving comment and was not deleted after being reported.

The researchers said the report “further proves that major technology platforms have created online spaces where anti-Semitism has been allowed to flourish with tragic and lasting effects, including terrorism against Jewish communities.”

Background

Instagram’s user base is significantly younger than that of Facebook and Twitter, with nearly 70% of their global users aged 13 to 34, while a survey by the Global Web Index found that Instagram is the most popular platform among men and women aged 16-16. 24 years old and in women between 24 and 35 years old.



Openly offensive hashtags were allowed to remain active on Instagram, research finds

Like all other social media platforms, Instagram has struggled to prevent the platform’s misuse to spread hate, disinformation and conspiracy theories. While much of the criticism directed at Instagram focuses on its perceived role in promoting unhealthy body image and insecurity among its young self-conscious user base, it has also been accused of failing to not to have acted on the incitement to hatred and even the terrorist recruitment that takes place. On the platform.

TikTok has been the fastest growing social media app in the world for the past two years. In September 2020, official TikTok user figures for Europe were released for the first time, showing that over 100 million people use the app in Europe at least once a month, making it more successful. in Europe than in the United States (30 million users in the same period, and 500 million users in China).

The users are very young compared to those of other social networks; according to official statistics. 69% of users are between 16 and 24 years old.

What was said?

“It is simply astonishing that despite 10 years of attempts to stamp out hate speech, we were able to find anti-Semitism on all the social media platforms we investigated,” said Joe Mulhall, manager. of research at Hope Not Hate.

“As social media companies struggle to pull themselves together, a new generation of social media users have been introduced to anti-Semitic ideas they likely wouldn’t encounter elsewhere.



The study found that nearly 70% of Instagram users worldwide are between 13 and 34 years old, while 69% of TikTok users are between 16 and 24 years old.

“Enough is enough. Now is the time for us to make a firm commitment to ban and moderate all forms of anti-Semitism and hate speech in the tech industry.

Facebook’s response

Responding to the report, a spokesperson for the Facebook company said, “Anti-Semitism is totally unacceptable and we don’t allow it anywhere on Instagram.

“We have always suppressed attacks against people because of their religion, and last year we made important updates to our policies, to remove any content that denies or distorts the Holocaust, as well as more implicit hate speech, such as harmful stereotypes that Jewish people control the world.

“We will continue to work with partners like Hope Not Hate, while developing new ways to remove hateful content and block harmful hashtags faster.”


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