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Data show social media companies failing to remove antisemitism

Online platforms are underinvesting in monitoring Jew-hatred and Holocaust denial, and are removing only 20% of antisemitic content from their sites, according to the world’s first live database of online antisemitism.

Social-media icons. Credit: TY Lim.
Social-media icons. Credit: TY Lim.

New data from CyberWell reveals that social media companies are underinvesting in monitoring Jew-hatred and Holocaust denial, with platforms only removing 20% of antisemitic content from their sites.

Data show that Holocaust denial is policed more aggressively than other forms of antisemitism, resulting in a removal rate of 36% for English posts but only 10% for messages in Arabic.

“These findings fit with what we’ve learned in studying how social media companies respond to hate speech: platforms will only devote resources to keeping users safe if enough people report problems, which puts Jews at a disadvantage,” said CyberWell CEO Tal-Or Cohen.

CyberWell is the world’s first live database of online antisemitism, using cutting-edge technology to collect digital hate so it can be studied and stopped.

Gidon Lev, a Holocaust survivor who combats antisemitism by sharing his experiences with over 400 thousand followers on Instagram and TikTok, voiced his frustration with content enforcement.

“Social media allows antisemitic hate and Holocaust denial to be shared directly to the people with no check or filter. Given how fast hate can spread online, social media companies have a responsibility to stem the tide,” he said.

The IHRA definition of antisemitism, which CyberWell uses to classify antisemitic content, describes 11 main categories of antisemitism, two of which deal directly with the Holocaust: Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms, or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people by the Nazis and its supporters and accomplices during World War II; and accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.

CyberWell’s database shows that similar posts questioning or denying the Holocaust are removed in English but remain online in Arabic.

“Reprehensible content is reprehensible in all languages,” said Cohen. “Social media platforms’ overreliance on user reports and underinvestment in combating Jew-hatred online in non-English languages has allowed blatant hate to proliferate in Arabic; by alerting them to these data insights, we hope to direct their attention toward fixing the problem.”

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