Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO and National Director of ADL
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO and National Director of ADLYoni Kempinski

In response to the growing threat of antisemitism spreading on social media, the Anti-Defamation League Center for Technology and Society is launching the Online Hate Index, which it describes as a “machine-learning system that detects hate targeting marginalized groups on online platforms.”

According to the ADL, the Online Hate Index is the first “independent, cross-platform measurement of the prevalence of antisemitic content on social media” that is focused on the “lived experience of the community targeted by hate.” The tool uses artificial intelligence that has been programmed by experts in antisemitism to flag problematic anti-Jewish content.

“In its inaugural use, the antisemitism classifier found that Twitter and Reddit failed to remove roughly three out of four of the antisemitic posts ADL had initially detected on their platforms, even after the posts had been up for nearly a month,” the ADL said in a statement.

The Online Hate Index is powered by “deep learning” in order to identify antisemitic language based upon “connections between observed social media content and language that is labeled antisemitic by human annotators.”

By repeating interactions during the training phase, the model becomes more accurate at detecting online antisemitic content.

“Once fully trained, the model can analyze English-language text and predict whether that text is antisemitic far faster and for a far larger volume of content than any human moderator could,” the ADL explained.

“For the first time, we are using the combined powers of artificial intelligence and ADL’s expertise to uncover antisemitic content online at scale,” said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.

“Technology companies are not sufficiently transparent about the effectiveness of their anti-hate policies and product interventions. So we created a tool that offers a clear picture of the state of hate on social media in real time, and we will use this tool to hold those social media platforms accountable for how well they proactively take down hate and how well their content moderators respond to reports.”

The ADL used the Online Hate Index in August 2021 to study Reddit and Twitter’s policing of their platforms for antisemitic content. The tool detected antisemitic posts and returned several weeks later to see if the hate content had been removed.

The ADL noted that “both Reddit and Twitter failed to remove at least 70 percent of the content ADL uncovered as part of this investigation.”

It explained that “79 percent of antisemitic tweets of the representative sample of content still remained on Twitter, and 74 percent of antisemitic comments of the representative sample remained on Reddit.”

The ADL reported the problematic posts, but “more than two months after ADL first found it, 56 percent of antisemitic Reddit comments and 57 percent of antisemitic tweets remained on the platforms.”

“While Reddit and Twitter have far more to do, they have both made substantial recent strides in addressing antisemitism and hate online. In this light, we offer our recommendations to help them better address these broader societal problems of online — and offline — hate and antisemitism,” Greenblatt said.