(May 7, 2018 / JNS) A new report from the Anti-Defamation League found that there were roughly 4.2 million anti-Semitic tweets in 2017 shared by more than 3 million users on the social-media platform.
“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,” said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt in a statement.
The ADL report, using a data set of roughly 55,000 tweets screened by researchers for indications of anti-Semitism, evaluated the tweet based on subjects ranging from Holocaust denial and anti-Semitic slurs to positive references to anti-Semitic figures, books and podcasts. The organization also counted coded words and symbols such as the triple parentheses, which has been used by white supremacists to single out Jews.
The ADL noted that there were spikes in anti-Semitic tweets that occurred around major news events, such as the Harvey Weinstein scandal or former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s comment that Hitler didn’t use chemical weapons.
Nevertheless, the anti-Semitic accounts constitute less than 1 percent of Twitter’s some 336 million active users.
The report by ADL comes as social-media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have fallen under greater scrutiny by the U.S. government, public and media for concern over harassment and their role in spreading fake news, especially during the 2016 presidential election. Twitter has sought to make changes to its platform, such as prohibiting offensive account names and better enforcing its terms of service.
In March, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey solicited ideas from the public on how to better handle harassment, including a livestreamed discussion of the issue.
“We hope this report will create a renewed sense of urgency among all social-media providers that this problem is not going away, and that they need to find innovative new ways to tamp down the spread of hatred online,” said Greenblatt.