Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

social media

A person accesses a social media app on their smartphone on September 4, 2018. (Photo: Muhammed Selim Korkutata/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Social Media Platforms Are a 'Safe Space' for Anti-Jewish Hate: Report

"Social media is increasingly unsafe for Jewish people, just as it is becoming for women, Black people, Muslims, LGBT people, and many other groups."

Brett Wilkins

Despite promises to crack down on hate speech, social media companies took no action against over 80% of the anti-Jewish posts—which included incitements to violence against Jews and Holocaust denial—reported on their platforms during a recent six-week period, a report published this weekend reveals.

 "This is not about algorithms or automation... Social media companies allow bigots to keep their accounts open and their hate to remain online, even when human moderators are notified."
—Imran Ahmed, CCDH

The report (pdf)—entitled Failure to Protect: How Tech Giants Fail to Act on User Reports of Antisemitism—was published by the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), whose researchers analyzed 714 anti-Jewish posts published on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and Google-owned YouTube from May through June that were viewed more than 7.3 million times.

The researchers found that overall, 84% of the hateful posts flagged by users on the social platforms' own reporting pages that "clearly violated" existing policies were not acted upon.

"Social media has become a safe space for racists to normalize their conspiracies and hateful rhetoric without fear of consequences," CCDH CEO Imran Ahmed said in a statement. "This is why social media is increasingly unsafe for Jewish people, just as it is becoming for women, Black people, Muslims, LGBT people, and many other groups."

"This is not about algorithms or automation; our research shows that social media companies allow bigots to keep their accounts open and their hate to remain online, even when human moderators are notified," Ahmed added.

According to the report, Facebook was the worst offender, only acting on 10.9% of reported hateful posts—despite vowing last year to crack down on Holocaust denial and other anti-Jewish content. Twitter only removed 11% of reported anti-Jewish posts, followed by TikTok (18.5% removed), Facebook-owned Instagram (18.8%), and YouTube (21.2%).

The report found that overall, the social platforms took no action against 89% of posts containing anti-Jewish conspiracy theories about 9/11, the Covid-19 pandemic, and purported Jewish control of world affairs. Likewise, the platforms failed to act against the vast majority of neo-Nazi posts, as well as those containing Holocaust denial, caricatures of Jewish people, and "blood libel"—the centuries-old lie that Jews ritualistically murder Christian children.

"Even after being reported at least once by users, Nazi symbolism, references to the white nationalist 'Great Replacement' conspiracy theory, and posts promoting violence against the Jewish community remain publicly visible," the report states.

Additionally, TikTok removed just 5% of accounts of people who directly abused Jewish users, with that platform, along with Instagram and Twitter, allowing hashtags promoting deadly violence against Jews.

"We believe this sample to be a fraction of the antisemitic content hosted on major platforms and endemic to Big Tech's failure to address the hatred that its platforms host," the report's authors write. 

The report recommends social media companies take the following actions to combat anti-Jewish posts:

  • Introduce financial penalties to incentivize proper moderation;
  • Hire, train, and support moderators to remove hate;
  • Remove groups dedicated to antisemitism;
  • Act on antisemitic hashtags; and
  • Ban accounts that send racist abuse directly to Jewish users.

TikTok and Twitter responded to the new report by saying they "condemn" antisemitism, with the latter telling BBC that it is "adamant about continually improving how we protect our community."

Facebook told BBC that "our work is never done," claiming it has "taken action on 15 times the amount of hate speech since 2017," while "the prevalence of hate speech is decreasing on our platform and, of the hate speech we remove, 97% was found before someone reported it to us."

The new report follows numerous others that have highlighted the problem of not only anti-Jewish but of hate speech in general on social media platforms.

Last summer, Facebook's own internal auditing showed how the company's business model amplifies and promotes white nationalist and racist hate speech. That model, said Freedom From Facebook & Google co-chairs David Segal and Sarah Miller, "relies on racism and hate to increase traffic and targeted ad profits and the platform 'privileges' some voices over others, allowing the powerful to willfully break the rules."

In its recently published inaugural "Online Antisemitism Report Card," the Anti-Defamation League—which has been widely criticized for conflating criticism and boycotts of Israel with antisemitism—gave Twitter and YouTube a grade of B-; Reddit and Twitch a C; and Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok a C- for their overall efforts to combat anti-Jewish content.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Coalition Slams UN Food Summit for Peddling 'Corporate-Led False Solutions' to Hunger

"The U.N. has finally made it clear what 'multilateralism' is all about—paying lip service to the people while skewing priorities for the interests of imperialists and monopoly capitalists."

Jake Johnson ·

'Political Malpractice': House Democrats' Bill Wouldn't Add Dental to Medicare Until 2028

"I don't want to see it drawn out to as far as the House has proposed," Sen. Bernie Sanders said during a recent press call.

Jake Johnson ·

'How Many More Deaths Must It Take?' Barbados Leader Rips Rich Nations in Fierce UN Speech

"How many more variants of Covid-19 must arrive, how many more, before a worldwide plan for vaccinations will be implemented?"

Jake Johnson ·

To Avert Debt Ceiling Calamity, Democrats Urged to Finally Kill the Filibuster

"The solution is to blow up the filibuster at least for debt limit votes, just as Mitch blew it up to pack the Supreme Court for his big donors."

Jake Johnson ·

Biden Decries 'Outrageous' Treatment of Haitians at Border—But Keeps Deporting Them

"I'm glad to see President Biden speak out about the mistreatment of Haitian asylum-seekers. But his administration's use of Title 42 to deny them the right to make an asylum claim is a much bigger issue."

Jessica Corbett ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo