search

Congress launches inter-parliamentary task force to combat online anti-Semitism

Bipartisan group will include MPs from Israel, Australia, Canada and UK, aims to establish consistent policy in legislatures around the world to hold social media sites accountable

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

US Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz speaks during a news conference with Congressman Ted Deutch (L) looking on in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on July 5, 2016, (AP/Lynne Sladky)
US Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz speaks during a news conference with Congressman Ted Deutch (L) looking on in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on July 5, 2016, (AP/Lynne Sladky)

A bipartisan group in the US House of Representatives on Tuesday announced the launch of an inter-parliamentary task force to combat online anti-Semitism.

“As social media posts do not stop at international borders, members of the national legislatures of the United States, Australia, Canada, Israel, and the United Kingdom have come together across party lines” to form the coalition, Democratic House member Ted Deutch’s office said in a statement.

Deutch will be joined on the task force by fellow Florida Democrat Debbie Wasserman Schultz, along with Chris Smith and Mario Diaz-Balart from the Republican party. From outside the US, Blue and White MK Michal Cotler-Wunsh will represent Israel, MPs Anthony Housefather and Marty Mortantz will represent Canada, MPs Josh Burns and Dave Sharma will represent Australia and MPs Andrew Percy and Alex Sobel will represent the United Kingdom.

Deutch’s office said the goals of the task force would include “establishing consistent messaging and policy from legislatures around the world in order to hold social media platforms, including Twitter, TikTok, Facebook, and Google, accountable.”

The congressman told the Jewish Insider that the idea for the inter-parliamentary group was born at the World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem earlier this year. Deutch said he left the gathering feeling “compelled to move forward” with more action to monitor social media sites, which he felt weren’t doing enough to combat the phenomenon.

Blue and White MK Michal Cotler-Wunsh (Avishai Finkelstein)

The task force will also seek to adopt transparent policies regarding hate speech, and to raise awareness of online anti-Semitism in particular, the statement from his office said.

“By working with multi-partisan allies in parliaments around the world, we hope to create best practices and real change in holding the social media giants accountable to the hatred that exists on their platforms. It is imperative that we work together to expose the double standards,” Cotler-Wunsh said in a statement.

The Blue and White MK had been part of a Knesset committee hearing last month, which was supposed to address social media companies’ policies on anti-Semitic content.

When a representative from TikTok failed to show, Cotler-Wunsh tore into the video-sharing platform, lamenting its “lack of accountability and responsibility,” noting that TikTok is a platform where “millions of children are exposed to virulently anti-Semitic content” for long periods of time. “They too must be held to account.”

read more:
comments