October 13, 2021

Antisemitism in the digital age: Online antisemitic hate, holocaust denial, conspiracy ideologies and terrorism in Europe

Despite ten years of attempts by social media companies to regulate and moderate hate speech, antisemitism is rife across every social media platform according to a ground-breaking report by HOPE not HATE, in collaboration with Expo Foundation and the Amadeu Antonio Foundation. This research showcases how antisemitism is most commonly and widely spread through conspiracy theories, which saw an unprecedented rise in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Executive Summary
  • The most worrying finding of this report is that we found antisemitism on every platform we explored. While the amount of different types of antisemitism varies between platforms, it remains possible to locate all forms and extremes of antisemitism on all platforms. Despite a decade of discussion and policy changes there is no platform currently available where antisemitism and hate speech more generally is not easily found.
  • While all forms of antisemitism can be found on all platforms, the amount of overt and extreme antisemitism on a platform is closely linked to the amount of moderation and the strictness of the platform’s terms of use. Unsurprisingly, the laxer the polices and the lighter the moderation, the more extreme antisemitism can be found in greater quantities.
  • On the more mainstream and larger platforms where overtly extreme antisemitism is more robustly acted against, conspiratorial antisemitism remains a huge problem. Some of the major social media platforms have been absolutely central to the creation and spread of conspiracy ideology content, much of which is antisemitic.
  • The major platforms that have taken a more robust approach to tackling antisemitism in recent years still have a long way to go. We found that some major platforms have become increasingly successful at removing antisemitic organisations, but still struggle to remove antisemitic content that emanates from decentralised and non-formalised movements.
  • Many antisemites change the tone, style and content of their antisemitism depending on the platform they are using to try and stay within the moderation line. For this reason, platforms that fail to adopt a holistic approach to moderation that takes into account off-platform behaviour, have more antisemites on them.
  • We found that the nature of online spaces can and has changed the nature and tone of antisemitism. Much of the antisemitism we found mimics and reflects the style and tone of the online space in which it is being articulated. This has resulted in some of the traditional pseudo-academic antisemitism and Holocaust denial losing ground to more mocking and internet-friendly forms of denial.