ADC speaks out against online hate

April 5, 2013 by  
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Dr Dvir Abramovich, Chairman of the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission ADC), has spoken out against the ever-growing proliferation of online hate speech, in particular on Facebook.

 

Dvir Abramovich

Dvir Abramovich

“While obviously having numerous benefits, the huge increase in Internet usage has also had its dark side. As an organisation dedicated to fighting racism and antisemitism, the ADC receives complaints on a daily basis about antisemitism or racism. By far the biggest area of growth in recent years has been complaints related to online material.”

“While this was not unexpected with the Internet assuming such a dominant role in communications media, few perceived how the anonymity, accessibility and reach of the Internet would exponentially increase hatred, sometimes in the most unexpected places. And while many hail the explosion of barely controlled information flow as a positive phenomenon, the terrible experiences of increasing victims of hate indicate an urgent need for workable systems of regulation and restraint.”

“Social media platforms, prominently Facebook, have been used as forums to spread and objects of defamation, from young children being bullied by their peers to calls for extermination of ‘the other’. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the spate of online hatred targeting Jews and their spiritual homeland, the State of Israel.”

“An important new publication by the Melbourne-based Online Hate Prevention Institute Recognizing Hate Speech: Antisemitism On Facebook paints a bleak picture of the current situation. While opportunities exist to report concerns to Facebook, its refusal to accept numerous examples of obvious hate speech (eg Holocaust denial, publications including the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, genocidal calls for Israel’s elimination and Nazi imagery to denigrate Jews) as antisemitic provides an almost impassable barrier to its control.”

“Nonetheless it is crucial that Facebook users continue to hold Facebook accountable. I call for all of us to report hatred and to let Facebook know that certain statements are not just unacceptable, but that they also make the world a bad place. At the same time Facebook users who post hateful messages must be confronted. Sometimes they simply do not understand the ramifications of what they have put up. Make your local MP, and both the Minister for Communications senator.conroy@aph.gov.au and the Attorney-General mark.dreyfus.mp@aph.gov.au aware of your concerns. Use the communication revolution to turn the tables on those who would use it for hate.”

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