On Facebook, some pro-Palestinian groups have become a hotbed of antisemitism, study says

Administrators of popular pro-Palestine groups are spreading antisemitic hate on Facebook and parent company Meta isn’t doing enough to stop them.

That’s the finding of a new study from the Center for Countering Digital Hate.

Tests run by researchers in 10 Facebook groups with a combined 300,000 members found that the majority – 76% – of anti-Jewish hate speech was ignored by administrators and 91% of accounts posting anti-Jewish hate were not removed.

When researchers reported antisemitic posts to Facebook, moderators did not take any action in 99% of the cases.

“Nefarious individuals have cynically embedded themselves in leadership positions in Facebook Groups that serve as meeting places for well-meaning people to express their solidarity with the Palestinian cause,” Imran Ahmed, CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, said in the study. “We found that most content in these groups primarily entailed political criticisms of the Israeli government and solidarity with Palestinian people.

Facebook logo on a smartphone screen
Facebook logo on a smartphone screen

However, Facebook’s negligent design has made it easy for these groups to be run by antisemites who drip-feed lies and exhortations to hate and discrimination against Jews, while the platform itself fails to take responsibility for content moderation.”

In a statement, Meta said hate speech is prohibited on its platforms and in groups, whether they are public or private. Facebook removes hate speech when it is found, even if it is not reported, the company said.

“If group admins break our rules, we also take action, which can include removing the admins or disabling the group,” Meta said.

Since the Oct. 7 attacks and the Gaza conflict, America has seen an alarming surge in antisemitism, from Nazi propaganda to Holocaust denial.

Concerned that social media platforms are helping hate reach a wide audience, President Joe Biden this month denounced “vicious propaganda on social media.”

Last week, representatives from Meta, Google owner Alphabet, TikTok, X, formerly Twitter, and Microsoft met with the Biden administration which is urging the technology companies to take action against antisemitic content.

U.S. special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, Deborah Lipstadt, requested dedicated staff to combat antisemitism and report on trends, Bloomberg reported.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Pro-Palestinian Facebook groups spreading antisemitism, new study says