Is Facebook turning a blind eye to Arab anti-Semitism?
Israeli ministry finds that social media networks selectively enforce rules against hate speech, seem to overlook anti-Semitism in Arabic.
Arutz Sheva Staff, י"ג באב תש"פ, 8/3/2020

Israel’s Diaspora Affairs Ministry on Monday presented data to the Knesset’s Immigration, Absorption, and Diaspora Affairs Committee on the proliferation of anti-Semitic rhetoric and conspiracy theories on social media networks like Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter.

The data was based on studies conducted by the ministry’s center for monitoring anti-Semitism and incitement on social media networks.

During the committee’s hearing Monday morning, the Diaspora Affairs Ministry provided examples of anti-Semitic comments on social media, in particular the rampant anti-Semitism found in many Arabic-language groups on Facebook.

In these Facebook groups, the ministry found numerous cases of Holocaust denial, blaming Jews for the Holocaust, classic anti-Semitism and newer forms of anti-Semitism.

Yogev Karsenti, the head of the Diaspora Affairs Ministry’s efforts to combat anti-Semitism, said that social media networks’ policies have made curtailing the spread of anti-Semitism online difficult.

“The Diaspora Affairs Ministry’s monitoring system uncovers hundreds of thousands of anti-Semitic comments every day. The monitoring doesn’t occur just with large networks like Facebook and Twitter, but also on smaller, lesser known networks. Dealing posts individually won’t help reduce the phenomenon in the long run.”

“In order to effectively fight this phenomenon, there have to be changes in the social networks’ policies. The Diaspora Affairs Ministry is sharing the information gathered by the monitoring system, including data and trends, with governments around the world and international organizations and encourages them to confront the phenomenon.”

Disapora Affairs Minister Omer Yankelevich said: “Freedom of expression ends where anti-Semitic incitement begins. Social media networks must accept the responsibility for the content shared on their platforms, and to adopt the general definition of anti-Semitism consistently across all languages.”

“The tolerance of anti-Semitism in Arabic is unacceptable. The long-nose Jewish stereotype is no different if it is published in an Arabic newspaper or in an English or French newspaper. Anti-Semitism is anti-Semitism.”

“We demand that the social media networks immediately close these anti-Semitic groups, share the statistics, and open up access to the [data] on their platforms, and thus become partners in the fight against this phenomenon rather than helping it by giving a forum to anti-Semitism and incitement online.”
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