Solving Antisemitic Hate Speech in Social Media

Confronting Antisemitism in Modern Media, the Legal and Political Worlds is the fifth volume of the An End to Antisemitism! series. Online Hate Prevention Institute’s CEO Andre Oboler contributed to the book with a chapter that explores the ways through which the problem of antisemitic hate speech on social media can be solved through global approaches and local action.

Excerpt from the Chapter

In 2008 the term “Antisemitism 2.0” was coined to describe the normalisation of antisemitism in society through the use of social media. In the past decade, the impact of social media in daily life has grown dramatically as has its use as a medium for hate speech. Antisemitism remains one of the most common forms of hate speech in social media along with the rise in anti-Muslim hate speech following the rise of Daesh (ISIS), the resulting refugee crisis, and the rise in global terrorism. Other groups in society are also targeted with misogyny, homophobia, and racism against Indigenous peoples making headlines around the world. The Jews have again been the canary in the coal mine with efforts to tackle Antisemitism 2.0 leading the way in the broader response to what has be-come known as Hate 2.0. In anonymous platforms like 4chan and 8chan, a more extreme version of this hate was normalised and by 2019 had led to members of that community carrying out multiple deadly terrorist attacks.

The first problem in tackling Antisemitism 2.0 is being able to identify antisemitic content in social media in an efficient and effective manner so it can be empirically measured. This problem was identified as a key challenge at the 2009 Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism, and a solution involving crowd sourcing of reports and automated verification was presented to a meeting of the Online Antisemitism Working Group of the Global Forum in 2011. The software was presented at the 2013 meeting and formally endorsed after a draft report based on the first 2,024 reported items was circulated at the 2015 meeting. The final report was released on Holocaust Memorial Day in 2016.

The new technical solution allows the problem to be redefined as a quality of service challenge where the level of hate must be constantly measured and kept below a threshold of acceptability. As was foreshadowed in 2010, if platforms failed to keep the level of hate low enough, governments would step in with regulation. This occurred in 2016 in Germany and the European Union with agreements between companies and governments. In 2017, Germany passed regulatory laws targeting non-compliance. Facebook itself was singled out on the question of measurement and fined two million Euros, when it only reported the number of complaints explicitly made under the German law rather than reporting all user reports of antisemitism and other forms of hate flagged by German users as the law required. The result was underreporting by multiple orders of magnitude.

The solution to antisemitism in social media has two parts. The first is a global effort to create transparency and accountability through a sharing of real-time data about hate speech in social media. The second part is local action in response to this data which is in keeping with the values and norms of each society. For example, criminal sanctions for posters of hate speech; penalties for social media platforms; counter speech exposing hate speech; counter speech promoting alternative positive narratives; education; campaigns targeting hate promoters, social media platforms, or advertisers.

Full Chapter

Read the chapter on De Gruyter’s website.

Alternatively, you can download the full chapter here.