Tech firms team up to fight against online hate


While the U.S. is still working on what to do with online haters and abusers on social media, some of the biggest names in tech industry have a more direct approach: to partner with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in order to thwart the online harassment.

Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter and other tech firms, are joining with the ADL to form a Cyberhate Problem-Solving Lab. According to the companies and civil rights group, they’ll exchange ideas and develop strategies to try to curb hate speech and abuse on their various platforms and across the internet.

These companies have an added responsibility to do everything within their power to stop hate from flourishing on their watch. We look forward to tackling this pressing challenge together.

Jonathan Greenblatt

Although, one cant quantify how pervasive online assaults have become, experts report shows that the number is increasing. According to a 2014 Pew Research Center report, about 40% of internet users have experienced some form of harassment, for those between the ages of 18 and 29, this figure jumps to about 65%.

ADL reports that between August 2015 and July 2016, roughly 19,000 anti-Semitic tweets targeted Jewish journalists  and that about 1,600 online accounts were responsible for 68% of those tweets. ADL also said that during that same time, 2.6 million anti-Jewish tweets may have been viewed as many as 10 billion times.

Tech companies like Facebook already has more than 7,500 people monitoring what users post. The social media firm has also invested in counter speech to drown out racist, sexist and bigoted rhetoric and has programmed its service to keep people from creating groups with hateful terms in their names. But even at that, Facebook still relies on it’s platform users to point out online abuse, and messages that violate the companies terms of use.

Facebook’s head of global policy, Monika Bickert, said in a statement that “some of the best minds in engineering will work alongside the ADL to help us rise to the occasion.”

Twitter on the other hand, has said its efforts towards fighting harassment are improving with the help of groups like the ADL to identify abusive behavior and help people more easily report it.

We believe meaningful progress in safety measures and policies can best be informed in partnership with others, so we’ll continue to collaborate with leading advocacy organizations, like ADL, to work towards solutions.

Colin Crowell
Twitter's head of public policy and philanthropy

No comment yet from Google and Microsoft. Other countries, such as the UK have a more direct approach regarding online hate: To be treated the same as face-to-face crime.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is an international Jewish non-governmental organization based in the United States. Describing itself as “the nation’s premier civil rights/human relations agency”, the ADL states that it “fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals, and protects civil rights for all”, doing so through “information, education, legislation, and advocacy”

Founded in October 1913 by the Independent Order of B’nai B’rith, a JewishService organization in the United States, its original mission statement was “to stop, by appeals to reason and conscience and, if necessary, by appeals to law, the defamation of the Jewish people. Its ultimate purpose is “to secure justice and fair treatment to all citizens alike, and to put an end forever to unjust and unfair discrimination against and ridicule of any sect or body of citizens”.

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