The US-based Jewish NGO counted 4.2 million tweets with anti-Semitic content, although the social media platform had previously announced its dedication to eliminating racist remarks from the website.
When analyzing the scope of the textual material, researchers claim they had observed a clear-cut rise in the number of anti-Semitic tweets in August 2017, when violent rightist activists took to the streets in Charlottesville in the US state of Virginia. Another peak fell on December last year, when US President Donald Trump announced his intention to transfer the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
As for the factual information that the tweets under analysis contained, the report identified a number of recurring topics.
Among them are notably "claims that Jews are greedy or that they control banks, media, governments and academia," as well as much-debated Holocaust denial and conspiracy theories centered around Jewish control of all spheres of human life – from the financial system to the weather.
A separate category contains tweets promoting the theological aspect of anti-Semitism, with a number of netizens accusing Jews of being responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus.
The report notably draws a line between robust criticism of Israel and its policies, and anti-Semitic sentiments, saying the selection they previously arrived at was double-checked to cross out tweets that had a humorous or satirical hue, in order to achieve unbiased conclusions. The report’s margin of error is estimated at 3 percent.
Our anti-Semite of the week could teach @BrightonBDS @ManchesterPSC and even Jackie Walker and Baroness Tonge a trick or two. Well done @JohnPatterson777 Kike alerts, blood libels and Jewish control. https://t.co/11euUf1Hhb— ZCC Manchester (@TheZCC) 16 апреля 2018 г.
To make content flagging more transparent, the report advises the social media giant to use artificial intelligence in order to make it easier for groups and individuals outside of the social media platform to report online hatred and introduce new measures to diminish its presence on Twitter.
The NGO said it has been inspired by some moves Twitter has already embarked on, namely removing verification signs, the blue badges, for "some white supremacists." However, the latter hasn’t been sufficient to curb the dangerous spread of hateful speech online, the report found.
"This new data shows that even with the steps Twitter has taken to remove hate speech and to deal with those accounts disseminating it, users are still spreading a shocking amount of anti-Semitism and using Twitter as a megaphone to harass and intimidate Jews," Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL’s CEO, remarked.
The study is the second detailed report by the ADL: In 2016, it examined anti-Semitic sentiment on the platform during the US election campaign and found that there were a little over 2.5 million anti-Semitic tweets between August 2015 and July 2016, with roughly 800 journalists being targeted by anti-Semitic posts.