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Social media execs testify on efforts to stop online anti-Semitism

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., on Friday chaired the first hearing of the Inter-Parliamentary Task Force to Combat Online Anti-Semitism in Washington, D.C.. Executives from social media platforms testified about their efforts to block hate speech and counter online anti-Semitism. Pool photo by Andrew Harnik/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/bb272eb51fb4062cb5d3b132c776d957/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., on Friday chaired the first hearing of the Inter-Parliamentary Task Force to Combat Online Anti-Semitism in Washington, D.C.. Executives from social media platforms testified about their efforts to block hate speech and counter online anti-Semitism. Pool photo by Andrew Harnik/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 16 (UPI) -- Social media executives explained on Friday efforts to combat hate on their platforms at the first hearing of the Inter-Parliamentary Task Force to Combat Online Anti-Semitism.

The task force includes representatives from governments around the world, including Canada, Israel and the United States. Task force chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., opened the hearing with an overview.

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"The repetition of lies and propaganda and the amplification of hate speech to justify or even enable political violence is an old strategy now operating in a massive scale through the power of social media and digital platforms," she said.

"Combatting the evil forces of anti-Semitism and extremism online is the first step in preventing anti-Semitic ideologically motivated and hateful violence on the streets."

RELATED ADL finds 'cracks in enforcement' of anti-Holocaust posts on Facebook

Neil Potts, Meta's vice president for trust and safety policy, told task force members that his company has longstanding policies against terrorism and hate.

"We recognize that bad actors will seek to use our platform in unacceptable ways," Potts said. " And we take our responsibility to stop them seriously. As we give people a voice, we want to ensure they are not using that voice to hurt others."

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Potts said Meta constantly updates its policies on hate speech and that includes banning holocaust denial and countering harmful stereotypes about Jewish people.

RELATED Study: Social media companies failed to remove 84% of antisemitic posts

He said Meta also connects users with authoritative information and works with organizations worldwide to promote awareness of anti-Semitism and give voice to Holocaust survivors.

Twitter exec Michele Austin added, "We take action against content and behavior that attempts to glorify, praise or deny acts of violence and genocide which includes the holocaust. Anti-Semitic abuse has absolutely no place on Twitter."

Twitter, Austin said, has worked with the Anti-Defamation League and other organizations to bring its policies into line on hate issues and to counter anti-Semitism.

"We also recognize that if people receive abuse and harassment on Twitter, it can discourage them from expressing themselves," she said.

YouTube government affairs and public policy executive Kevin Kane said his platform has longstanding policies against anti-Semitic conduct.

"There is no place on YouTube for hateful content," Kane said.

Kane said his company operates on what it calls four pillars of responsibility. They include, he said. removing content that violates hate speech policies and not allowing Holocaust denial content.

The company also elevates authoritative content to counter hate speech, rewarding trusted content creators and reducing the spread of borderline content.

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"Responsibility is and will continue to be our top No. 1 priority. Our business depends on it," Kane said. "We have made huge progress making our community safer, but we know that our work is not done nor will it ever be."

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