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May072018

There were 4.2 million anti-Semitic tweets over the course of a year, new report finds 

Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- There were about 4.2 million anti-Semitic tweets posted on Twitter last year, according to a new report.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on Monday released a study that it said breaks down the number of such tweets on a weekly basis from the end of January 2017 through January 2018.

Its weekly counts range from a high of 181,700 anti-Semitic tweets to a low of 36,800 tweets, according to the nonprofit that calls itself “the world’s leading anti-hate organization.”

The report is the most comprehensive examination of anti-Semitism on the platform, the ADL said, although it did a similar review but used a smaller set of keywords in a report released in October 2016.

The October 2016 report found 2.6 million tweets containing frequently used anti-Semitic language on the platform from August 2015 to July 2016, largely directed toward Jewish journalists, according to an ADL news release commenting on today's report.

“That was equally alarming but in a different way,” ADL director and CEO Jonathan Greenblatt told ABC News today.

Twitter did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment. But the social media platform began enforcing new policies to combat hate speech and abusive behavior a little over a year ago, including the suspension of several accounts associated with white nationalism. Twitter is also expanding its efforts to combat hate speech by cracking down on racist or sexist messages in account bios and images. “We are an open platform and hold a mirror up to human behaviors, both the good and the bad,” the company said in a statement to The Associated Press. “Everyone has a part to play in building a more compassionate and empathetic society, including Twitter.”

Significant dates


While the number of weekly tweets appeared to gradually increase over the 52 weeks reviewed, there were certain weeks that stood out as having significant increases. The ADL noted that it could not specify reasons for any increases over the course of the year.

Of the three weeks with the highest number of anti-Semitic tweets, only the week with the most appeared to have a discernable connection to a world event, according to the ADL analysis.

The week in question was Dec. 3-9, 2017, which was the week after President Donald Trump announced that the United States would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The next two highest weeks -- in mid-November 2017 and late-January 2018 -- could not be tied to any specific news event.

“Some moments were catalyzed by world events but most of it is just an increase in volume of venom,” the ADL’s Greenblatt told ABC News. “[It's] the new normal.”

Some of the demonstrators at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, were chanting racist slogans and propagating anti-Semitic views when they took to the streets in August but, according to the ADL report, the week after that deadly event only registered as one of the 13th busiest weeks in terms of anti-Semitic tweets.

The week of August 13-19 had the highest number of possible anti-Semitic tweets but the smallest percentage of tweets that were actually anti-Semitic, according to the report.

Among the reasons for the gap was that much of the tweeting about the rally noted the anti-Semitism on display but the tweets were not espousing anti-Semitic beliefs themselves, and therefore were not counted in the study, the ADL said.

Hate-filled content


There was a range of content that the report authors were looking for, including tweets that drew upon what they call "classic anti-Semitic stereotypes," including Jews being greedy or controlling banks and the media and government.

Holocaust denial and conspiracy theories were also included as qualifying material.

They were examples of “how old and awful and disproven ideas have new and real traction online,” Greenblatt said.

“These things are right out of the Nazi playbook. These are hateful myths that were disproven generations ago but have somehow … gained new ground thanks to new media.”

The Harvey Weinstein sex abuse scandal, which broke in October 2017, prompted a number of anti-Semitic tweets because, the report stated, the "story touches on multiple long-standing anti-Semitic tropes, including Jewish control of Hollywood and the media, and Jewish sexual degeneracy and perversion."

Weinstein has denied all sexual harassment and abuse allegations against him.

The pro-Trump "QAnon" conspiracy theories, which some believe to be a secret leaker from inside the Trump administration, were connected to some anti-Semitic tweets as well, as were a number of references to globalists, which is a term the report said is used as a code word for "Jews" used by some anti-Semites.

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