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Social media platforms fail to remove reported anti-Semitic content, ‘shocked’ group of MEPs say


An anti-Semitic graphic shared on social media attributing the COVID-19 pandemic to a Jewish conspiracy. Image: Hope not hate

Members of the European Parliament took coordinated action against anti-Semitism online this week, identifying and reporting anti-Jewish content on three social media platforms, and expressing grave concern over the continued availability of anti-Semitic material even after it has been reported.

Initiated to mark the November 9 anniversary of the ‘Pogromnacht’ – the violent Nazi-led riot against the German Jewish community in 1938 – MEPs rejected posts on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube promoting the denial of the Holocaust, the “medieval” blood defamation, “and various anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, including the claim that the COVID-19 pandemic is a deliberate plot orchestrated by powerful Jews.

Several posts on Facebook and Youtube featured a fictional rabbi named “Abraham Finkelstein” presenting anti-Semitic myths about Jewish religious practices as undisputed facts. In a Facebook post, a quote from “Finkelstein” claimed that as many as 300,000 non-Jewish children are kidnapped in the United States each year and used in the baking of unleavened bread for the Passover feast – rekindling anti-slander. – deadly Jew who first appeared. in the 12th century.

Other articles denied the Holocaust, claiming that concentration camp inmates died of typhus and starvation from Allied bombardments on Germany, and not in gas chambers operated by the Nazis.

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The COVID-19 posts involved lists of names of prominent Jewish and non-Jewish individuals charged with fending off the pandemic with the accompanying warning: “Every aspect of COVID is Jewish. “

The Berlin-based International Institute for Antisemitism Education and Research, which oversaw the MEPs’ project, said after the offending material was reported, only a small fraction was taken offline.

“Out of 90 anti-Semitic content, only 10 were removed by social media platforms within the prescribed time frame. This represents 11%, ”noted Institute President Kim Robin Stoller in a statement.

Stoller added that “the results are shocking and show that social media platforms fail to remove even the most obvious and obvious forms of contemporary anti-Semitism after they have been reported by users.”

Frédérique Ries, a Belgian MEP who is vice-chair of the European Parliament’s anti-Semitism working group, said the presence of anti-Semitic content “on the same platforms where you follow your friends and family is very disturbing.”

She continued, “We instinctively believe that once reported they would be removed quickly. The problem is, they are not, and the results of our campaign are worrying.

Miriam Lexmann, a Slovakian MEP, said she was “shocked at the low level of reported posts being deleted by social media platforms”.

Lexmann said: “Through their neglect, these platforms have become a vehicle for the dissemination of anti-Semitic and hate material and become a threat to social cohesion and, indeed, democracy. It is essential that social media platforms finally take responsibility or suffer the consequences of their inaction. “

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