Canada - B’nai Brith special report on social media algorithms propagating hate

A new report prepared by B’nai Brith Canada reveals disturbing and concerning propagation of antisemitism and hate by social media algorithms.

These algorithms also promote alarming glorification of violence and misinformation in Canada. According to the report, social media algorithms recommend toxic content to their users and do not remove accounts and/or content that violates their own community standards.

B’nai Brith is equipped to work with policy-makers to better understand this issue and help to hold social-media companies accountable in the realm of tackling hate in all its forms on their platforms.

Our B’nai Brith research team conducted its study over a 21-day period and monitored the activity on Instagram and Twitter using several fake social-media accounts. The objective was to determine how much interaction is required for the algorithm to promote inflammatory content that violated the companies’ codes of conduct.

Other key findings:

1. Of the accounts recommended in a sample on one day of the study, 58 per cent directly violated Instagram’s code of conduct.

2. Hate-inspired hashtags - for example, #jewscontrolthemedia, #hitlerwasright and #allmuslimsareterrorists - are prevalent and easily accessible by internal search engines across both social media platforms. The auto-complete function on Twitter offers an extra level of direction to users by providing trending hate-inspired hashtags.

3. Most posts recommended to the fake accounts glorified violence, promoted conspiracy theories and contained hate speech.

4. When posts and accounts that blatantly violated the companies’ own hate speech policies were reported, they were almost never removed.

5. The algorithms required little interaction to spark content suggestions containing significant misinformation and hate speech targeting Jews and other minority groups.

In its special report, B’nai Brith recommends various actions to help policy-makers combat antisemitism, hate speech and misinformation on social media.

“Intentional or not, social media companies are saying hatred of Jews is fair game,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada. “Hatred online puts the Jewish community at risk, destroys social cohesion and jeopardizes our democracy. This is a huge problem that must be rectified immediately by policy-makers. It is time for concrete action against the social media giants, starting with B’nai Brith’s six recommendations in this special report.”

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