Anti-Semitic post uploaded to social media every 83 seconds
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'We knew anti-Semitism online was on the rise; now we have concrete data on how alarming it really is'

Anti-Semitic post uploaded to social media every 83 seconds

World Jewish Congress and Israeli monitoring firm examine millions of 2016 online posts, finds Twitter is by far most hate speech-filled network

An image of some of the anti-Semitic posts found in the WJC study, an excerpt of which was released on March 24, 2017. (Courtesy WJC)
An image of some of the anti-Semitic posts found in the WJC study, an excerpt of which was released on March 24, 2017. (Courtesy WJC)

Posts with anti-Semitic content are uploaded to social media an average of 43 times per hour, or every 83 seconds, according to a new study by the World Jewish Congress, an excerpt of which was released on Friday.

In a joint research project with the Israeli monitoring firm Vigo Social Intelligence, the WJC analyzed millions of posts uploaded in 2016 in 20 languages on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, blogs and other forums, mining for anti-Semitic sentiments, memes, images and so on.

More than 382,000 of the posts were found to have been anti-Semitic. Posts critical of Israel or its policies were not included in the study.

The study found that a majority, some 63 percent, of all anti-Semitic content online can be found on Twitter. Blogs made up 16%, Facebook 11%, Instagram 6%, YouTube 2% and 2% on the other forums.

“We knew that anti-Semitism online was on the rise, but the numbers revealed in this report give us concrete data as to how alarming the situation really is,” said World Jewish Congress CEO and Executive Vice President Robert Singer in a statement released Friday. “We hope this serves as a wake-up call to all internet forums to maintain moral standards, rid themselves of offensive content and make the digital world a safer place for all.”

World Jewish Congress CEO Robert Singer delivers a speech at the memorial event commemorating the 75th anniversary of the 1941 Nazi mass murder of Kiev's Jews in the Babi Yar ravine on September 27, 2016. (Shahar Azran / WJC)
World Jewish Congress CEO Robert Singer delivers a speech at the memorial event commemorating the 75th anniversary of the 1941 Nazi mass murder of Kiev’s Jews in the Babi Yar ravine on September 27, 2016. (Shahar Azran / WJC)

The WJC said that the criteria used to determine whether a post fit the bill was based on a May 2016 definition from the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) which states that “anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

The full study is set to be released next month at the World Jewish Congress’s plenary assembly in New York.

The WJC said the study identified the posts “through a database of searchable word phrases and terms online, then translated into leading languages and scanned through the internet,” after which “a representative sample was read and codified by analysts to refine searches and deepen qualitative analysis.”

An illustrative photo shows the logo of social networking website Twitter displayed on a computer screen. (AFP Photo/Leon Neal)
An illustrative photo shows the logo of social networking website Twitter displayed on a computer screen. (AFP Photo/Leon Neal)

“A total of 7,600 posts were read in different languages, indicating a representative sample of 2% of the total discourse included in the analysis,” it said.

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft in June signed a code of conduct with the European Commission that requires them to delete the majority of reported illegal hate speech within 24 hours.

The signing of the accord was hailed as major progress toward reconciling US-based social networks’ adherence to American legislation despite demands by European governments and judiciaries that the firms limit themselves in Europe to the stricter laws on hate speech applied in much of the continent.

Monitor groups have reported failures to comply after the document’s signing. Twitter has been particularly reluctant to comply with European legislation.

In 2013 Twitter lost a protracted legal battle in France over its initial refusal to either disclose details of users who made anti-Semitic statements online or block them for continuing to do so.

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