Understanding Social Media’s Anti-Semitism Problem

July 28 2022

Having recently edited a book about the ways Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, and other platforms spread hatred of Jews, Sabine von Mering and Monika Hübscher point to some of the features that make these websites especially pernicious:

Anti-Semitism may take on subtle forms such as in emojis. The emoji combination of a star of David and a rat resembles Nazi propaganda likening Jews to vermin. . . . Another form of anti-Semitism on social media is the anti-Semitic troll attack: users organize to disrupt online events by flooding them with messages that deny the Holocaust or spread conspiracy myths.

The scholars Gabi Weimann and Natalie Masri have studied TikTok. They found that kids and young adults are especially in danger of being exposed, often unwittingly, to anti-Semitism on the very popular and fast-growing platform, which already counts over 1 billion users worldwide. Some of the content that is posted combines clips of footage from Nazi Germany with new text belittling or making fun of the victims of the Holocaust.

Anti-Semitism is fueled by algorithms, which are programmed to register engagement. This ensures that the more engagement a post receives, the more users see it. Engagement includes all reactions such as likes and dislikes, shares, and comments, including [negative ones]. The problem is that reactions to posts also trigger rewarding dopamine hits in users. Because outrageous content creates the most engagement, users feel more encouraged to post hateful content.

However, even social-media users who post critical comments on hateful content don’t realize that because of the way algorithms work, they end up contributing to its spread.

Read more at Conversation

More about: Anti-Semitism, Internet, Social media


Why President Biden Needs Prime Minister Netanyahu as Much as Netanyahu Needs Biden

Sept. 28 2023

Last Wednesday, Joe Biden and Benjamin Netanyahu met for the first time since the former’s inauguration. Since then, Haim Katz, Israel’s tourism minister, became the first Israeli cabinet member to visit Saudi Arabia publicly, and Washington announced that it will include the Jewish state in its visa-waiver program. Richard Kemp, writing shortly after last week’s meeting, comments:

Finally, a full nine months into Benjamin Netanyahu’s latest government, President Joe Biden deigned to allow him into his presence. Historically, American presidents have invited newly installed Israeli prime ministers to the White House shortly after taking office. Even this meeting on Wednesday, however, was not in Washington but in New York, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

Such pointed lack of respect is not the way to treat one of America’s most valuable allies, and perhaps the staunchest of them all. It is all about petty political point-scoring and interfering in Israel’s internal democratic processes. But despite his short-sighted rebuke to the state of Israel and its prime minister, Biden actually needs at least as much from Netanyahu as Netanyahu needs from him. With the 2024 election looming, Biden is desperate for a foreign-policy success among a sea of abject failures.

In his meeting with Netanyahu, Biden no doubt played the Palestinian issue up as some kind of Saudi red line and the White House has probably been pushing [Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman] in that direction. But while the Saudis would no doubt want some kind of pro-forma undertaking by Israel for the sake of appearances, [a nuclear program and military support] are what they really want. The Saudis’ under-the-table backing for the original Abraham Accords in the face of stiff Palestinian rejection shows us where its priorities lie.

Israel remains alone in countering Iran’s nuclear threat, albeit with Saudi and other Arab countries cheering behind the scenes. This meeting won’t have changed that. We must hope, however, that Netanyahu has been able to persuade Biden of the electoral benefit to him of settling for a historic peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia rather than holding out for the unobtainable jackpot of a two-state solution.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship