Hit Social Media App Clubhouse Under Fire for Antisemitic Content
The social media app Clubhouse, which allows large numbers of people to interact by live voice chat in “rooms” on specific topics, faced a new storm of controversy on Sunday after antisemitic content in several of their rooms was exposed online.
Clubhouse, whose popularity has exploded during the COVID-19 pandemic and was recently valued at $4 billion in a fundraising round, has previously been under scrutiny over serving as a venue for hatful content, with an October 2020 article in Tablet exposing intensely antisemitic discourse that took place over the 2020 Yom Kippur holiday.
In a statement at the time, the company said that it that its staff had held “several intense conversations on topics of identity, ethnicity, gender, racism, and religion” and that it condemned “Anti-Blackness, Anti-Semitism, and all other forms of racism, hate speech and abuse on Clubhouse,” laying out content moderation policies including safety features, incident reports, training moderators, and community engagement.
On Sunday, Twitter user @EliKohn3 posted a screenshot of a room title reading, “Booted out of room speaking truth about Jewish Privilege.”
“Nearly 200 people talking about how Jews control the federal reserve, Jews were behind the trans-Atlantic slave trade, minorities are pawns for the Jews to destroy whites… I can’t believe the amount of antisemitism,” he tweeted.
Among the comments he overheard, @EliKohn3 said, were: “There are more Jews in your government than ever before. These people are evil;” “Whenever you criticize them, they’re gonna use ‘antisemitic,’ they’ll never admit to anything;” “90% of actors on television are Jews. They run everything;” “White people aren’t running anything. It’s the Jews running everything;” and “I got kicked out of a room just for saying that Jews play the victim and pass off their problems to the whites when they’re the real perpetrators. You’ll find out whose on [sic] power when you find out who you can’t criticize.”
In a statement on Twitter posted in response to the litany of, Clubhouse said, “We shut down a number of rooms found to be in violation and, where appropriate, issued suspensions and removed users indefinitely.”
“All forms of racism, antisemitism, hate speech, and abuse are prohibited on Clubhouse and are a direct violation of the Community Guidelines,” they said.
An Algemeiner request to Clubhouse for further details on the company’s approach to dealing with antisemitic content was directed to the Twitter statement.
Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt told Jewish Insider, “The antisemitism that we have seen spread on Clubhouse in recent weeks, particularly the ugly surge this weekend, is a painful reminder of the persistence of anti-Jewish hate and how it infects so much of social media.”
“This weekend we know that there was a torrent of ugly, indisputable hatred, from raw Holocaust denialism to disgusting lies about the Jewish people and slanderous claims against the Jewish state,” he added.
The problem appeared to be continuing despite Clubhouse’s efforts. User @MichaelaHirsh tweeted Monday that she had encountered a room called “The Jews & Asians vs Black Reparations is the REAL BATTLE” in which one person said, “Jewish people cry about Hitler, but the thing is, it’s an unpopular opinion, but Hitler did what he had to do for his people. Germany today is a superpower because of Hitler.”
She said she also heard the phrase “the Holocaust was good actually” repeated several times, and then posted an image from a Swedish-language room titled, “Soon it will be illegal to deny the Holocaust… was Hitler good?”