Facebook and Twitter Remove Fraction of Anti-Semitic Posts, Report Finds

Social media companies take inconsistent approaches to 'hate speech'

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August 6, 2021

Facebook and Twitter only removed a small fraction of anti-Semitic posts users reported in 2021, highlighting the difficulties social media companies face when moderating hate speech.

A new report from the Center for Countering Digital Hate found that Twitter and Facebook took down fewer than one in nine reported examples of anti-Semitism over a six-week period in 2021. The center also reported hundreds of anti-Semitic posts on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. The posts include Holocaust denial, Nazi symbolism, and hashtags like #holohoax and #killthejews. The posts received 7.3 million views on the social media platforms.

The study reveals social media giants' inconsistent approach to content moderation. Facebook and Twitter have suppressed scientific pieces suggesting COVID-19 could have escaped from a Chinese lab. But the platforms' efforts to fight "misinformation" do not extend to anti-Semitic posts. The center emphasized that the true percentage of anti-Semitic posts taken down is likely far lower than its study reported.

Facebook has long struggled to deal with anti-Semitic posts. In 2018, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the site would not ban anti-Semitic content. But Facebook changed course in October 2020, announcing it would ban "any content that denies or distorts the Holocaust." In that announcement, the company also said that it bans stereotypes about Jews controlling world events.

The center's report found some anti-Semitic tropes were censored less than others. Posts about "Jewish puppeteers" controlling finances and world events were only removed 8 percent of the time, as were posts "implicating Jewish people in a vast global conspiracy."

Some of the posts not removed by Twitter used the hashtag #JewWorldOrder. Only 4 percent of posts that blamed Jews for COVID or for supposedly dangerous vaccines were removed by the platforms.