According to a new report from the Anti-Defamation League, anti-semitic hate speech targeting journalists has seen a meteoric rise on Twitter — thanks to the rhetoric in the 2016 Presidential Campaign.
The organization, which has a long history of battling anti-Semitism (both real and perceived), established its task force in June in response to what was already a marked rise in anti-semitic abuse of reporters online.
The report used a broad set of keywords and combinations of words to capture anti-semitic language on social media. In all, some 2.6 million tweets that were found to contain language that’s consistent with anti-semitic speech were posted on Twitter between August 2015 and July 2016. And those tweets had 10 billion impressions.
The rise in an anti-semitic language only intensified as the U.S. presidential campaign got into full swing from January 2016 to July 2016.
The ADL focused its research specifically within the Twitter swarm on 50,000 journalists who received a total of 19,253 anti-semitic tweets.
In a sign that Twitter really hasn’t managed to solve its trolling problem in the slightest, more than two-thirds of the tweets, were sent by 1,600 Twitter accounts.
According to the survey from the ADL, those accounts were disproportionately likely to self-identify as Donald Trump supporters, conservatives, or as part of the “alt-right” — a group of right wing extremists that contain a number of white supremacists.
These Twitter trolls really didn’t like 10 Jewish journalists. Roughly 83% of the tweets sent out by groups went to journalists including the conservative columnist Ben Shapiro, Tablet’s Yair Rosenberg, the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg and The New York Times’ Jonathan Weisman, and CNN’s Sally Kohn and Jake Tapper.
Twitter’s response? The company deactivated about one-fifth of the offending accounts.
“The spike in hate we’ve seen online this election cycle is extremely troubling and unlike anything we have seen in modern politics. A half century ago, the KKK burned crosses. Today, extremists are burning up Twitter” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, the chief executive of the ADL in a statement. “We are concerned about the impact of this hate on the ability of journalists to do their job and on free speech, which is why we established this Task Force. We hope this report hastens efforts to combat the surge of hate on social media. We look forward to working with Twitter, media companies, and other online platforms to limit hate and harassment and preserve freedom of speech.”
Much of the online harassment of journalists came from the anonymous army of egg-trolls, but the ADL singled out two neo-Nazis responsible for some of the attacks. Andrew Anglin, founder of the popular white supremacist website “The Daily Stormer” and Lee Rogers of Infostormer (formerly “The Daily Slave”). The two were banned from Twitter, but have used other platforms to encourage anti-semitic trolling.
The report is the latest in a string of analysis the ADL has undertaken detailing the rise of tech-driven hate crimes since 1985. The group has worked on identifying Twitter as a recruitment tool and has coordinated with Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Yahoo, and YouTube to create best practices to counter hate speech online.