Anti-Semitic comments surge in US election campaign
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Anti-Semitic comments surge in US election campaign

Spot.IM, the Israeli firm that powers the responses section of global media sites, sees spike in hate, racist buzz

This photo combination shows US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in Atkinson, New Hampshire on November 4, 2016, and US Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in Dade City, Florida, on November 1, 2016. (AFP/Mandel Ngan and Jewel Samad)
This photo combination shows US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in Atkinson, New Hampshire on November 4, 2016, and US Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in Dade City, Florida, on November 1, 2016. (AFP/Mandel Ngan and Jewel Samad)

During the US presidential campaign, anti-Semitic comments on online articles have risen by 20 percent and have become more violent and extreme, according to Spot.IM, the Israeli company that powers the comments section of some of the largest media sites globally.

According to data gathered by the company in the past six months from the sites whose comment sections it monitors, the anti-Semitic comments appear mainly on the websites of the media outlets that openly support one candidate over the other — so supporters of the alternative contender talk back in an effort to balance out what they perceive as one-sided reporting.

To do so, they often highlight the candidate’s ties to Jews in a defamatory way, Spot.IM said.

Some of the accusations against Jews that have appeared in the talk-backs are claims that Jews want to control the world or distort public opinion, that they aim to use presidential candidates as their puppets and buy them with donation money or that Jews strive to attain US support for Israel in its conflict with Palestinians.

“We see supporters of both the Democratic and Republican candidates speaking out against Jews and Israel,” Nadav Shoval, the CEO and co-founder of Spot.IM, said in an interview. “Because we build the online communities for these media outlets, all of the discussions go via us.”

Alongside the anti-Semitic comments, there has been a 250% rise in hate, racist and violent comments during the electoral campaign, Spot.IM said.

Spot.IM’s platform is used by over 4,600 media outlets, including AOL, Time Inc. and Huffington Post, and enables readers to interact with the sites and with each other via comments. There are over 300 million interactions on Spot.IM-sponsored comment forums each month, on articles with over 3 billion page views.

Founded in 2012, the company, which works with over 25% of US digital content sites, in August raised $13 million in Series A funding for expansion.

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