Warning: Conspiracy theories about Covid are helping spread anti-Semitic beliefs to a wider audience, new audience warns Report by the anti-racist advocacy group Hope not Hate. The report says that not only has the pandemic revived interest in a “New World Order” conspiracy theory of a secretive Jewish-run elite aimed at running the world, but far-right activists have also worked to turn people into anti-lockdown and anti-lockdown activists. A vaccine for active beliefs in anti-Semitism.
Worst offenders: The authors were easily able to find anti-Semitism on all nine platforms they searched, including TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. Some of them use coded language to avoid detection and moderation by algorithms, but many are overt and easily detectable. Not surprisingly, the authors found a close link between the amount of anti-Semitism on the platform and how mild or weak it was: the more permissive the moderation, the greater the problem.
Some details: The report warns that the messaging app Telegram is fast becoming one of the worst offenders, hosting numerous channels that spread anti-Semitic content, some of which have tens of thousands of members. One channel that promotes the New World Order conspiracy theory has gained 90,000 followers since its inception in February 2021. However, it is a problem on every platform. Jewish creators have on TikTok complained They face a deluge of anti-Semitism on the platform, and are often targeted by groups who mass-report their accounts in order to get them temporarily banned.
Case Study: The authors point to a man who has been radicalized during the pandemic as a typical example of how people can end up adopting more and more extremist views. At the beginning of 2020, Attila Heldmann was a successful vegan chef in Germany, but in just a year he went from being ostensibly apolitical to “just asking a few questions” as a social media influencer to spreading hate and inciting violence on his own Telegram Channel.
What can he do: Many of the platforms investigated have had more than a decade to deal with the regulation and modification of hate speech, and some progress has been made. However, while major platforms are getting better at removing anti-Semitic organizations, they still struggle to remove anti-Semitic content produced by individuals, the report warns.