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June 10, 2016 8:30 am

Antisemitism Expert: Twitter Must ‘Step Up’ War Against Jew-Targeted Hate Speech

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Twitter should do more to combat antisemitism, expert says. Photo: Wiki/Telecino.

Twitter should do more to combat antisemitism, expert says. Photo: Wiki/Telecino.

Twitter needs to “step up and deal with the hate speech” that is increasingly sweeping the popular social media platform, an antisemitism expert told The Algemeiner on Thursday.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC), was responding to recent reports from Jewish personalities on Twitter that they have been coming under attack by antisemites and white supremacists.

According to Cooper, “Over the last six months, Twitter has taken considerable steps to remove terrorist accounts. ISIS alone has been sending out 200,000 tweets a day. When it comes to dealing with hate speech, they have done virtually nothing against disgusting, racist and antisemitic hashtags that are currently active on the site.”

Twitter’s purported lackadaisical response to antisemitic hate speech in its feeds even prompted prominent New York Times Washington deputy-editor Jon Weisman to shut down his account of 34,000 followers. After providing Twitter with a vast collection of antisemitic tweets sent to him over the last several months, Twitter responded that none of the offenders had violated the site’s rules.

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Weisman announced his decision Wednesday in a series of tweets:

Weisman became a target of antisemitic trolls — who are able to hide behind a mask of anonymity on Twitter —  using the “(((echo))) technique.” Last week, Google pulled an innocuous sounding plugin — the “Coincidence Detector” — used in its Chrome browser by white supremacists to track Jews online. Using a special web construction of three parentheses around the names of targets, white supremacists were able to label Jews who appeared on the web. This allowed users to single out popular Jewish personalities in entertainment, media and politics and harass them online, especially on Twitter.

While the extension had remained relatively unknown, its true use came to light when Twitter user @CyberTrump tweeted to Weisman: “Hello (((Weisman))),” following his posting of an anti-Trump article. When Weisman asked @CyberTrump to explain the symbol, he wrote, “It’s a dog whistle, fool. Belling the cat for my fellow goyim.” With the parentheses, @CyberTrump alerted the world to (((echo))).

The New York Times editor told CNN Money, “I think Twitter should require people to use their real names, like Facebook does. Of course people will lie, just as they do on Facebook. But just making people provide a real name and a verifiable email address would help. Twitter is absurd, and the Twitter handles of antisemitic, racist trolls aren’t even trying to sound legit.”

According to SWC’s Cooper, Weisman and other Jewish personalities are being “pummeled with antisemitic invective for simply expressing their political views.” The implications of Twitter’s inaction, Cooper said, can prove drastic.

“If Twitter doesn’t set rules on hate speech, people will leave in droves, profoundly hurting their business model,” he said. “They have every right to set the red lines and enforce them when a user complains.”

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