A coalition of nearly 130 Jewish and pro-Israel organizations from around the world has appealed to Facebook to step up enforcement against hate speech on its platform and has reached out to Israel’s Minister of Strategic Affairs Orit Farkash-Hacohen to help lead the charge.
The coalition is urging the social media giant to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism at a time when they said online antisemitism is the most acute form of hate speech they experience today.
The coalition argues that this definition “provides an effective, neutral and nuanced tool to protect against incitement to hatred, inside and outside the social network.”
According to the group, community standards on Facebook and other social media platforms have failed to address the growing threat.
“Facebook’s Director of Content Policy Stakeholder Engagement, Peter Stern, shared in a webcast last May that Facebook did not have a robust policy aimed at combating online antisemitism,” a release put out by StopAntisemitism.org about the appeal explained. “While he described the usefulness of the IHRA working definition, he admitted that the company did not fully embrace it. More recently, in June, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg publicly committed to revising the company’s policies to fight hate speech.”
The group appealed to Farkash-Hacohen because they said that, “We need the State of Israel to stand with us.”
“I am pleased that more than 100 pro-Israel organizations have approached me to address this important issue,” Farkash-Hacohen said. “I welcome the initiative and call on more bodies and organizations to join the clear demand for change.”
Farkash-Hacohen is already a leader in the battle against growing online hatred.
Last May, just after she took up her new role, the minister asked Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to suspend the account of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. In his tweets, Khamenei had likened Israel to a cancerous tumor that must be destroyed – statements that violate Twitter’s policies. She said Twitter’s failure to suspend Khamenei’s account highlights the dual morality that the microblogging network follows.
Under Farkash-Hacohen’s guidance, the ministry formulated a proposed outline for dealing with the issue of hate speech on social media. The ministry is asking that the networks define clearer policies and then enforce them and that they better monitor their platforms.
“Social networks cannot be used as a wild space for antisemitism and harm to the Jewish people and the State of Israel,” Farkash-Hacohen concluded.
Among the organizations that joined the call to action are StopAntisemitism.org, Zachor Legal Institute, NGO Monitor, Honest Reporting, Zionist Organization for America, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce, National Council of Young Israel, Jewish Policy Center and more.
“Hate speech and hate crimes are highly correlated,” stressed Zachor Legal president Marc Greendorfer. “There is no free pass to amplifying antisemitism. We’re not just fighting hate speech; we’re fighting for people’s safety.”