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Facebook’s Anti-Semitism Problem

March 21, 2013 – 4:26 pm7 Comments
Image: OHPI

Image: OHPI

According to a local watchdog, Facebook has a major anti-Semitism problem.

The Online Hate Prevention Institute (OHPI) has today released a major new report into anti-Semitism on Facebook to coincide with the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on March 21st 2013.

The new report tracks the response to a number of anti-Semitic items on Facebook. Some of the items were included in OHPI’s previous report in 2012 into Aboriginal Memes and Online Hate, while others are new in 2013. The report shows how some items are removed by Facebook while others remain online, some for more than 6 months. The report examines what Facebook removes and what sort of content Facebook does not consider hate speech and refuses to remove. The findings show that Facebook does not really understand anti-Semitism and has trouble recognizing certain very well known types of anti-Semitism.

The report shows Facebook has difficulty identifying racism directly based on Nazi propaganda; consistently refusing to recognize as hate speech pages promoting the famous anti-Semitic forgery used to inspire mass killings, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion; and failing to take action on new anti-Semitism which uses Holocaust inversion to paint Israel and Jews as Nazis. These blind spots can be added to the known difficulty Facebook has in recognizing Holocaust denial as Hate Speech.

Dr Andre Oboler, who heads the OHPI, stated that “The items that remain online are there as a result of a deliberate decision by Facebook to dismiss the concerns that have been expressed to them over these items. Having shared an early draft of our new report with Facebook at the start of February, none of the items discussed in this report should take Facebook by surprise. The decision not to take action on certain types of content, like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, is clearly a matter of Facebook policy, and not an isolated mistake by junior staff.”

The full report and further information is available here.


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  • Shirlee. says:

    Andre, you and I both know, and we’ve had dealings together on this issue for number of years now, that Facebook and Youtube are only interested in their bank balances. They are not interested in cleaning up the vile antisemitism and hatred that abounds on their sites.

    Look at last year and how long it took to get the David Irving tripe removed and the amount of effort too.

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Good work Andre! It’s good to audit these things so that there is no “we weren’t aware” defence!

  • Sabra says:

    As anti-Semitism is entrenched in the DNA of non-Jews and is something that is totally unaccountable, inexplicable and unfounded, why would FB be any different? Even if it was founded by a Jew, it’s daily workings aren’t run by Jews therefore the ones that are presumably in control of this function couldn’t give a damn! Latent anti-Semitism abounds everywhere – it only takes a minor incident to bring it out of anyone, even the most benevolent (on the surface).

    Surely we don’t expect to ever have an impact on something that is so totally firmly entrenched in peoples’ belief systems??

  • David Schulberg says:

    Check out http://aijac.org.au/news/article/sue-me-jew-horrific-hate-speech-by-australian-st for an AIJAC article about horrific hate-speech by Australian students on an anti-Israel Facebook page.
    Always a good idea to take screenshots to prove what you saw as sometimes these people realise their stupidity and remove stuff to cover their tracks.

  • Shirlee. says:

    I was the first to put out an alert on this and sent screen shots on the very first day to a few people. I monitor these groups daily.


    Here’s the whole article. If you don’t have a paid subscription you won’t be able to read it

    Julia Gillard denounces activists as anti-Israel protest turns anti-Semitic

    by: Christian Kerr
    From: The Australian
    April 30, 2013 12:00AM

    JULIA Gillard has denounced the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement ahead of anti-Israeli protest action planned at the University of NSW today.

    BDS action at UNSW has turned ugly, with anti-Semitic and Holocaust-denying material appearing on a Facebook page opposing the opening of a Max Brenner chocolate shop on campus. Postings on a Facebook page promoting today’s protest have attacked “Jews and Jew lovers” and said the figure of six million Jews murdered by Nazi Germany was an exaggeration.

    “Tell us again how there was no hidden Zionist agenda with the Holocaust and the eventual creation of the state of Israel,” one reads.

    The Prime Minister said yesterday through a spokeswoman that the government had always been firm in its opposition of the BDS movement, which equates Israel with apartheid-era South Africa.
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    “This campaign does not serve the cause of peace and diplomacy for agreement on a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine,” she said.

    “I welcome the strong ties our universities have with Israeli researchers and academic institutions, and I hope those ties will deepen in the years ahead.”

    The University of Sydney Student Representative Council this month called for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions, including severing the university’s ties with the world-renowned Technion in Haifa.

    The Prime Minister’s comments come a week after she became the first Australian politician to sign the London Declaration on Combating Anti-Semitism.

    “In the face of anti-Semitism, there can be no bystanders,” she wrote. “As citizens, as leaders and as nations, we must act.”

    The gesture has been seen as bridge-building after a row with the Jewish community last year over Australia’s abstention from a UN vote giving Palestine non-member observer state status.

    Executive Council of Australian Jewry chief Peter Wertheim welcomed Ms Gillard’s remarks yesterday.

    “The BDS campaign against Israel over the last few years has been a spectacular failure,” he said.

    “It has been forcefully repudiated by every political party represented in the federal parliament and in every state and territory parliament.”

    Some Greens, including NSW senator Lee Rhiannon, have backed the movement in the past. Support for BDS is credited with dashing the Greens’ hopes of winning the seat of Marrickville in the 2011 NSW election.

    The group Students for Justice in Palestine has called for a boycott of the University of NSW Max Brenner outlet, due to open in June.

    BDS activists claim the chain is owned by the Israeli Strauss Group of food and confectionery manufacturers, which produces some rations for the nation’s defence forces and accuse it of complicity in “Israeli war crimes”. However, the local management insists it is wholly Australian owned and operated.

    Australian Union of Jewish Students spokesman Andrew Goldberg said: “The boycott Max Brenner movement has turned into a hotbed of blatant anti-Semitism. Classical anti-Semitic comments have been made, clearly irrelevant to discussion about Max Brenner. The organisers have effectively endorsed these comments by dismissing legitimate concerns about anti-Semitism as ‘trying to shut down debate about Israel’.”

    Mr Goldberg called on university officials to “ensure that those with an anti-Semitic agenda will not be allowed to spread their hateful and discriminatory agenda on campus”.

    The Australian was unable to contact the Facebook site’s operators. However, one prolific poster apologised “to any of the Jewish people on this page who were upset and offended by comments”.

  • Shirlee. says:

    Just heard in an email it was a wash out. About 30 attended.

    I figured about 50 going on past experience

  • Caro says:

    “However, the local management insists it is wholly Australian owned and operated.”

    I can tell you that this is true.

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