Anti-Semitism on the rise on Twitter: report

Anti-Semitism on the rise on Twitter: report
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There was a “significant uptick” in anti-Semitic abuse on Twitter in the first half of this year, a leading anti-discrimination group says, with a big portion of the attacks aimed at journalists.

In total, there were 2.6 million tweets with "containing language frequently found in anti-Semitic speech" between August 2015 and July 2016, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said in a new report Wednesday.


Of that broad group of tweets, 19,253 were sent to 800 journalists. Those tweets were seen an estimated 45 million times.

The rise in anti-Semitic abuse was linked to supporters of GOP presidential nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpAmash responds to 'Send her back' chants at Trump rally: 'This is how history's worst episodes begin' McConnell: Trump 'on to something' with attacks on Dem congresswomen Trump blasts 'corrupt' Puerto Rico's leaders amid political crisis MORE, the report said.

“Over the course of the 2016 Presidential campaign, an execrable trend has emerged: reporters who voiced even slightly negative opinions about presidential candidate Donald Trump have been targeted relentlessly on social media by the candidate’s self-styled supporters; reporters who are Jewish (or are perceived to be Jewish) have borne the brunt of these attacks,” the group said.

The group found that many of the users behind the anti-Semitic tweets self-identified with either the far right, conservatives or Trump’s campaign. But it cautioned that the “finding does not imply that Mr. Trump supported these tweets, or that conservatives are more prone to anti-Semitism.”

“It does show that the individuals directing anti-Semitism toward journalists self-identified as Trump supporters and conservatives,” the report said.

The ADL does not take sides in elections.

Anti-Semitic attacks on Twitter have risen over the course of the period during which the study was conducted and as the presidential election has ramped up. Seventy-six percent of the attacks directed at journalists came in the five-month period between February and July of this year.

“This corresponds with intensifying coverage of the presidential campaign, the candidates, and their positions on a range of issues,” the group said.

Strikingly, 83 percent of the tweets directed at journalists were sent to just 10 people, all of them Jewish.

The report comes after many journalists have expressed concerns about being targeted by Trump supporters with anti-Semitic comments and imagery.

Jonathan Weisman, a journalist at The New York Times, wrote earlier this year about being flooded with anti-Semitic harassment — in many cases from people who said they were Trump supporters. Journalist Julia Ioffe was the target of Twitter abuse after profiling Trump’s wife, Melania.

Twitter has also had to grapple with the prevalence of abuse and harassment on its platform. Senior executives have acknowledged the problem several times, but the company has struggled to turn its commitments into concrete results.

That may have a long-term effect on the company. Bloomberg reported on Monday that Disney had chosen not to pursue an acquisition of Twitter in part because of concerns over abusive language on the platform.

“We don't believe these numbers are accurate, but we take the issue very seriously," a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement Wednesday, adding that "policy and products aimed squarely" at this type of harassment will be "be shared in the coming weeks.”

- Updated at 4:34 p.m.