Dr Yvette Alt Miller has written an excellent article arguing that “Social media has become a new frontline in the war on terror”. She holds a B.A. from Harvard University, a Postgraduate Diploma in Jewish Studies from Oxford University, and a PhD In International Relations from the London School of Economic. Her article looks at incitement encouraging knife attacks against Jewish Israelis on Facebook.
She notes that, “[s]ince the explosion in violence in Israel in October 2015, scores of terrorist attacks – using knives, using cars as weapons, and guns – have left dozens of Israelis dead and maimed. As the violence has spread, so has online incitement, as extremists cynically manipulate social media to call for ever more attacks against Jews.”
The article gives examples of calls to attack and kill on Twitter with hashtags like “Knife Intifada”. It also discusses videos on YouTube glorifying and inciting attacks. Dr Miller notes that “Facebook has also become a portal to incite violence against Jews and others”.
The article refers to the Shurat HaDin experiment (see our full commentary). It highlights the very real problem of incitement the experiment raises, while avoids the mistakes we have seen in so many other articles. That mistake is assuming that Facebook takes down all the incitement by default, and that it is just the incitement / hate against Jews / Israelis which is remaining online. We have seen the claim made, with a range of different targeted groups, that they are being discriminated against because the hate against everyone else comes down, but not against them. Our work across all types of hate shows that everyone is in the same boat. All groups that are being attacked on Facebook are getting a less than ideal response most of the time. Facebook needs to improve, but they are not deliberately rejecting reports based on who is being targeted.
Another myth is that Facebook is worse than other platforms. This also isn’t supported by the data. Facebook, while still having a lot of improvement to do, still response more effectively to more of the complaints than other social media platforms.
Dr Miller ends her article with a call to action, “As online incitement continues, we can take to our computers – writing to parent companies, complaining about inappropriate content, and encouraging our friends to do the same. Let’s do our part and fight on this frontline of terror.” Calling for the companies to do more is certainly a worthwhile response. We would also encourage people to keep reporting content to the social media companies, and to also report it to FightAgainstHate.com.
Reporting to FightAgainstHate.com allows monitoring so we can see how well the social media companies are responding to users reports, well as seeing how much hate is out there. FightAgainstHate.com was endorsed by the Global Forum to Combat Antisemitism in May 2015. A major report on online antisemitism, based on data collected through this system, will be released on Holocaust Memorial Day, January 27th 2016.
Another form of positive action is sharing news about FightAgainstHate.com so more people become aware of it and more data is then collected. You can help by sharing this article.
You can read Dr Miller’s article at Aish.