Major social media platforms failed to block 84 percent of antisemitic content that was reported to them through their own tools, according to a new report.
The analysis by the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) looked at 714 posts breaking platform standards on anti-Jewish hate across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok between May 28 and June 29.
The posts in total had an aggregated reach of up to 7.3 million impressions, according to the report, which estimated impressions based on the number of followers of the account or group hosting the post or the number of views of the post if provided by the platform.
Facebook and Twitter showed the “poorest rate of enforcement action,” according to the center's report.
Of the 129 posts reported to Facebook, fewer than 11 percent were acted on. Facebook removed five of the posts and eight of the accounts and in once case “flagged” a viral Holocaust denial post with a label instead of removing it, according to the report. Facebook’s reported failure to act on the posts comes less than a year after the company put in place a policy to remove content that denies the Holocaust.
Twitter took action on just 11 percent of the 137 posts reported as part of the study, removing nine of the posts and six of the accounts.
“We strongly condemn antisemitism in any form. We’re working to make Twitter a safer place for online engagement, and to that end, improving the speed and scale of our rule enforcement is a top priority for us. We recognize that there’s more to do, and we’ll continue to listen and integrate stakeholders’ feedback in these ongoing efforts,” a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement.
Facebook-owned Instagram had a slightly higher level of enforcement action, taking action on nearly 19 percent of the 277 posts reported.
Facebook spokesperson Dani Lever pushed back on the report’s findings.
“While we have made progress in fighting anti-semitism on Facebook, our work is never done. These reports do not account for the fact that the prevalence of hate speech is decreasing on our platform, we have taken action on 15 times the amount of hate speech since 2017, and of the hate speech we remove, 97% was found before someone reported it to us,” Lever said in a statement.
Facebook also pushed back on the methodology of the report, arguing the anecdotal samples don’t reflect its overall efforts, which it said are driven by proactively finding and removing hate speech.
The company also said it would review the content in the report and remove any that it finds breaks its rules.
YouTube had the reported highest rate of enforcement action, acting on 21 percent of the 52 reported posts. But researchers estimated the content on YouTube had the highest levels of impressions, estimating the content had an aggregated reach of 3.5 million impressions.
YouTube spokesperson Ivy Choi said it has established a “robust hate speech policy and made significant progress” in its ability to remove hateful content that violates its community guidelines, including antisemitic content.
“This work is ongoing and we appreciate this feedback from CCDH,” Choi added.
TikTok took action on about 18 percent of the 119 posts reported.
"TikTok condemns antisemitism and does not tolerate hate speech. We work aggressively to combat hate by proactively removing accounts and content that violate our policies and redirecting searches for hateful ideologies to our Community Guidelines. Hateful behavior is incompatible with TikTok's creative and inclusive environment, and we are adamant about continually improving how we protect our community," a TikTok spokesperson said in a statement.
CCDH further broke down the identified 714 antisemitic posts into categories. Researchers identified a total of 477 posts as spreading antisemitic conspiracy theories — and that the platforms failed to take action on 89 percent of such content.
The researchers also identified a total of 277 posts spreading “extremist anti-Jewish hate,” including posts that deny or minimize the Holocaust, reference inciting explicit violence toward Jewish people, or Nazi and neo-Nazi content. The platforms in total failed to act on three-quarters of the extremist anti-Jewish hate, based on the report.
CCDH recommends the platforms hire and support moderators to remove the hateful content. The report also recommends more platform-specific measures, including calling for Facebook to remove groups researchers identified as being “dedicated” to antisemitism, and Instagram, TikTok and Twitter act on hashtags found to be “regularly used” to share antisemitic content.
Moreover, CCDH recommends legislatures reform Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act in a way that limits the protections the law provides for tech platforms. Section 230 provides a liability shield for platforms over content posted by third parties.
“If legislators want to stop hate corroding our society, they must learn from others' success in dealing with social media platforms which give a megaphone to racism, abuse, and hate,” the report states.