Israel Outlines Response to Hate Speech on Social Media

YERUSHALAYIM -

Against the background of a sharp rise in hate speech on social media, the Ministries of Strategic and Diaspora Affairs released “The Hate Factor” report on Safer Internet Day, defining the government response to social media platforms teeming with incitement, fake news, and conspiracy theories.

The report was presented in a special Knesset hearing of the Immigration, Absorption, and Diaspora Affairs committee, led by MK Cotler-Wunsh and was attended by government officials as well as representatives of major social media networks. The committee focused on getting social media companies to reinvigorate their efforts against antisemitic hate speech online and promote the implementation of effective policy and enforcement against the worry growing trend.

Among the measures proposed was the labeling of anti-Semitic content, similar to industry practice with misinformation surrounding the U.S. presidential election and Covid-19. It also calls on companies to implement clear definitions of hate speech, including implementing the IHRA Working Definition on Antisemitism, referencing it in its policy and labeling.

Regarding enforcement, the report highlights the need to train content monitors dedicated to flagging anti-Semitic content and end the selling of antisemitic paraphernalia. Social media networks are called upon to be more transparent and make information about the scope of anti-Semitism on their platforms accessible to the public.

Minister of Strategic Affairs Michael Biton: “Freedom of expression serves as a central tenet of any democracy. Unfortunately, hostile and anti-Semitic elements exploit social media platforms to spread their hate speech, undermining this cornerstone. The Jewish people and the State of Israel are constantly being attacked through incitement, the spreading of misinformation, and outright lies. We have a special interest in taking the initiative on this issue and are holding social media companies accountable to start taking responsibility and act to implement clearer, more effective and transparent policies.”