by Haya Luftig
The Jewish Appeal to Facebook on Charlottesville Anniversary
Over 90 national, state and local Jewish organizations representing the Jewish community relations network are appealing to Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook to take action to stem the growth of antisemitism, racism, violent hatred and disinformation online. “You preside over one of the most powerful communications systems in human history. You have the ability and the means to reduce the hate and disinformation that tears us apart.”
The letter was released on the third anniversary of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville Virginia. As the country marks this moment, white supremacists are flourishing on platforms like Facebook, and Jewish communities have remained a target of white nationalist and antisemitic violence.
The groups, from across the country, across the political spectrum and across every denomination of Judaism pointed to four “common sense changes” that would stem the spread of hate and extremism online. They wrote: “Every day you delay, Jews, our partners in other communities and our society pay the price, while you reap the profits. It needs to stop now.”
During the pandemic there has been an increase in hate, antisemitism, racism, and disinformation online, including a proliferation of white nationalist rhetoric such as:
- Of 221 known white supremacist organizations, more than half—51%, or 113 groups—have a presence on Facebook.
- As tens of millions of Americans took to the streets for racial justice, online disinformation targeted Black Lives Matter (BLM) to disrupt their activities and taint them with dangerous conspiracy theories. Bad actors used false accounts and posed as BLM activists to promote lies, such as: A fake hashtag #AWAN (all whites are Nazis) which saw 7000 posts in 12 hours on just one day along with 80 graphic images from 4Chan trolls.
- Facebook’s own internal reviews found that 64 percent of all extremist group joins come from recommendation tools. Most of the activity came from the platform’s “Groups You Should Join” and “Discover” algorithms.
The letter urges Facebook to make the following changes to its platform:
- Remove public and private groups focused on white nationalism and extremism, antisemitism, Holocaust denial and pernicious disinformation.
- Undertake serious systemic change to better identify antisemitism, Holocaust denial, and other dangerous content so you can truly make a dent in the problem.
- Stop recommending hate to users. Heed your own internal findings that your algorithms, especially the recommendation features, are directly responsible for the growth of extremist groups online.
- Stop spreading disinformation that threatens the health of democracy and people. Remove misinformation and intimidation that threatens our voice as voters, our health and our rights. Every advertiser, every leader must be held to the same standard.
Click here for the full text of the letter and signatories list.