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Jewish pols experienced 6,000 antisemitic tweets in a month, says ADL

Jewish incumbents running for reelection were bombarded with antisemitism on Twitter over the summer, according to a study released Tuesday by the Anti-Defamation League.

The ADL found that between July 23 and August 22, 30 incumbent Jewish members of the House and Senate received a total of nearly 6,000 antisemitic tweets, about 10% of the tweets directed at the group as a whole.

Nearly half of the tweets questioned the loyalty, honesty, ideology or faith of Jewish incumbents, the report said. Other common themes included misinformation about Democratic donor George Soros, including conspiracy theories that he is bankrolling Black Lives Matter protests and “antifa” in order to support “Jewish supremacy;” allegations of Jewish control over the media, the financial world or the government; and accusations that incumbents were secret Communists or Marxists. Some of the tweets “targeted incumbents with claims of pedophilia,” a nod to a QAnon conspiracy theory that purports the government is running a child sex-trafficking ring.

“Social media platforms are breeding grounds for hate and antisemitism at a frightening scale, and as very public and sometimes polarizing figures, Jewish members of Congress often experience the worst of this on Twitter,” said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt in a statement.

The majority of the tweets dealt in antisemitic tropes rather than direct anti-Jewish slurs, said the report; fewer than 10% of the tweets contained explicitly antisemitic language. Twitter has yet to remove any of those that do.

While New York Sen. Chuck Schumer received the vast majority of total tweets aimed at Jewish incumbents, New York Rep. Jerry Nadler received a higher percentage of troubling tweets, the report said. The two men combined fielded nearly 60% of the problematic tweets. Tied for third place were California Sen. Diane Feinstein and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Some of the tweets that questioned the incumbents’ Jewish faith focused on their interactions with visibly Muslim people, including a photo of Sen. Sanders and activist Linda Sarsour, who has long drawn allegations of antisemitism.

The report included recommendations for social media companies to combat antisemitism, including ways to better inform content reviewers about antisemitic tropes, collect and share data on hate and adjust algorithms to stop the spread of hateful content.

It also recommended that candidates ask Congress to study online hate’s impact on elections and work to target misinformation.

The ADL used a digital tool, the Online Hate Index, to compile the tweets and estimate the likelihood that each was antisemitic, then had three reviewers label and analyze them.

The ADL’s report represents the most recent step in the organization’s campaign Stop Hate For Profit, aimed at getting social media platforms to more effectively combat hate speech. In July, the group led an advertising boycott against Facebook for its failure to remove hate groups from the platform, and last month, celebrities like Kim Kardashian froze their Facebook and Instagram handles for a day as a part of the ADL’s campaign.

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