‘Widespread’ antisemitism on TikTok and Instagram fuelling ‘new generation’ of hate

·2 min read
‘Millions’ of hashtag results linked to  harmful material on social media, research finds   (PA)
‘Millions’ of hashtag results linked to harmful material on social media, research finds (PA)

Young people are exposed to “rife” antisemitic content on social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok, according to a report which warned “a new generation” were being introduced to racist ideas they would not have encountered offline.

The campaign group Hope Not Hate said it found that the use of antisemitic tropes and conspiracy theories increased dramatically online during the pandemic, including on Reddit.

Researchers said there were “millions” of hashtag results linked to harmful material including on platforms such as Instagram and TikTok.

The authors of the report said three antisemitic hashtags were viewed more than 25 million times on TikTok in half a year.

Although Telegram, Parler and 4chan contained the most extreme antisemitism, Hope Not Hate warned that millions of young people see similar content on more popular social media channels.

Around 70 per cent of Instagram users are aged under 34, while 69 per cent of TikTok users are between 16 and 24, the organisation noted.

Joe Mulhall, of Hope Not Hate, said social media was allowing antisemitism to “flourish with tragic and long-lasting effects”.

“It’s simply astounding that despite 10 years of attempts to eradicate hate speech, we were able to find antisemitism on every social media platform we investigated,” he said.

“While social media companies have been struggling to get their act together, a new generation of social media users have been introduced to antisemtic ideas they would be unlikely to encounter elsewhere.”

He added that “enough is enough”, and stressed that the tech sector has a duty to ban all forms of antisemitism.

In response to the report, a spokesperson for TikTok said the platform condemned antisemitism and was working “aggressively to combat hate” by removing accounts and content.

“We will keep strengthening our tools for fighting antisemitic content,” they added.

A spokesperson for Facebook, which owns Instagram, said: "Antisemitism is completely unacceptable and we don't allow it anywhere on Instagram.

"We've always removed attacks against people based on their religion, and last year we made important updates to our policies, to remove any content that denies or distorts the Holocaust, as well as more implicit hate speech, such as harmful stereotypes that Jewish people control the world.

"We'll continue to work with partners like Hope Not Hate, while developing new ways to remove hateful content and block harmful hashtags more quickly."

The German and Swedish anti-hate groups the Amadeu Antonio Foundation and the Expo Foundation supported Hope Not Hate with the research.

Its publication came shortly after it emerged that hate crimes in the UK have hit an all-time high.

More than 124,000 hate crimes were recorded in England and Wales in the 12 months to March, which is 9 per cent higher than the previous record, set the previous year.

Additional reporting by PA

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