'Worse Than We Thought': Report Highlights Avalanche-Like Spike in Hatred of Jews on Social Media
According to a report, anti-Semitism is spread primarily through conspiracy theories in writing, images and clips, as well as various hashtags, being generally more prevalent on less-moderated social media.
Widespread anti-Semitism occurs on all social media, despite the tech giants' attempts to regulate the content, according to a new joint report.
The report, called “Anti-Semitism in the Digital Age”, written by the Swedish human rights foundation Expo together with the British anti-extremist group Hope Not Hate and the German foundation Amadeu Antonio, takes a holistic approach to anti-Semitic hatred in social media.
The report found Anti-Semitic content on all major platforms, including Tiktok, Instagram, Facebook, Parler, Reddit, Telegram, Twitter, Youtube and 4chan, in varying degrees. According to the report, it is spread primarily through conspiracy theories in writing, images and clips, as well as various hashtags. This type of content was also found to have increased in an avalanche-like fashion during the pandemic.
“The situation is worse than we thought. It is extremely worrying that social media platforms continue to spread anti-Semitism. And it is alarming to see it happen on platforms like Instagram and Tiktok where the vast majority of users are young,” Expo CEO Daniel Poohl told the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.
The report indicated, among other things, millions of hashtags on Instagram and Tiktok that refer to anti-Semitic conspiracy theories or myth-making about the Jewish people. On Tiktok, posts with some of the anti-Semitic hashtags were viewed over 25 million times in six months.
“As it is now, a new generation is being introduced, voluntarily or not, to anti-Semitic ideas that they would not encounter anywhere else,” Daniel Poohl said.
According to the report, however, the prevalence of anti-Semitic content is relatively lower on platforms with stronger moderation, such as YouTube.
“Our report shows that something can be done about the problem. Both the technology sector and legislators must act, and quickly,” Poohl said in conclusion.
The report was published in connection with the Malmö International Forum for the Remembrance of the Holocaust and the Fight Against Anti-Semitism that started on Wednesday, where world leaders and representatives for tech giants are present.
“We must never forget the Holocaust,” Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said in his inaugural speech, expressing hope that the conference in Malmö will result in concrete measures to combat racism and anti-Semitism. “We experience anti-Semitism all over the world, and since 2019, we have seen it increase. We must do what we can to fight this, and that is why we are here,” Löfven said.
The conference was accompanied by unparalleled security measures in Malmö, including parts of the city cordoned off and the nearly 8-kilometre Øresund Bridge linking Malmö with the Danish capital Copenhagen shut down.
Before the conference, a series of articles appeared in various Swedish publications on “Jewish flight”, including from Malmö, whose diaspora has dwindled in recent years and is teetering on the brink of extinction, in the words of the Jewish community, amid reports of attacks, hate crimes and everyday anti-Semitism.