New report finds “deluge” of antisemitic tweets directed at Jewish members of congress as 2020 campaign heats up

ADL (the Anti-Defamation League) today released a new study finding a high volume of antisemitic tropes and misinformation on Twitter directed at incumbent Jewish members of Congress who are running for re-election.

For the study, ADL’s Center for Technology and Society collected and analyzed all tweets across a single month that were directed at the 30 incumbent Jewish members of the House and Senate. The one-month snapshot – between July 23 and August 22, 2020 – included 5,954 tweets that were identified as potentially antisemitic. Ten percent of these tweets were labeled as “Problematic,” for containing antisemitic content. And within this, there were distinct categories of antisemitic content, including: 1) George Soros-related conspiracy theories; 2) explicit antisemitic language; 3) tropes related to Jewish power and control and 4) tweets questioning the loyalty and faith of Jewish incumbents.

“Social media platforms are breeding grounds for hate and antisemitism at a frightening scale, and as very public and sometimes polarizing figures, Jewish members of Congress often experience the worst of this on Twitter,” said ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt. “Just looking at a snapshot, we found a growing use of QAnon conspiracy theories and other hateful tropes against Jewish members during this important election year.”

Among the report’s findings:
  • A large number of tweets (48 percent of all tweets labeled as problematic) questioned the loyalty, honesty, ideology, and faith of Jewish incumbents.
  • Misinformation related to George Soros constituted 39 percent of all tweets labeled as problematic.
  • Fifteen (15) percent of the problematic tweets also included tropes related to the broad conspiracy theory that Jews control key political, financial, and media systems and exploit them for their advantage to the detriment of others.
  • Representative Nadler (NY-10) and Senator Schumer (NY) were disproportionately targeted with the highest number of problematic tweets. Other lawmakers who were disproportionately targeted in this sample include Senator Wyden (OR), Representative Raskin (MD-8), Representative Cohen (TN-9) and Representative Cicilline (RI-1).
In addition to antisemitic conspiracy theories, tropes and misinformation, the sample set also includes content that employed “explicit antisemitic language.” While these only accounted for 7 percent of all problematic tweets, Twitter has yet to remove them – even though they clearly violate the platform’s rules and policies.

“While Twitter has taken myriad steps to deal with hate speech that violates their terms of service, they’re not identifying or removing this blatant antisemitism quickly enough,” Greenblatt said. “Twitter must enforce their rules and remove such content swiftly and consistently.”

This analysis was enabled by ADL’s Online Hate Index, a tool that automates the classification of hate speech online. Those tweets were further labeled, analyzed and manually reviewed by ADL researchers. The report also includes recommendations for both social media companies, as well as lawmakers and candidates. The full report can be found here.

Source: ADL