Human Rights First Challenges Surge of Antisemitism and Anti-Black Hate

For more than a month, bigoted and dangerous actions and comments from Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, have ignited a surge of antisemitic incidents across the United States including antisemitic demonstrations by neo-Nazis in Los Angeles, antisemitic messages displayed throughout Jacksonville, Florida, and a dramatic increase in online hate against Jewish and Black people.

“The alarming surge in antisemitism and anti-Black racism across the country and around the world is being fed by personality, but also by technology,” said Human Rights First President and CEO Mike Breen.  “Tech is being used to empower dangerous extremists and their violent actions, as there is a direct correlation between online hate and offline harm.  The extremist anti-democratic movement, which is becoming increasingly visible in the United States, is an existential threat to our civic institutions, to public discourse, and to democracy itself.  Human Rights First will continue to challenge anti-democratic violent extremism both online and off, and stand with communities impacted by this hate.”

By welcoming back Ye to Twitter, its new owner Elon Musk has emboldened bigots, extremists, and the broader antidemocratic far-right extremist movement.

“Musk’s comments signal the platform is now a safe place for hate,“ continued Breen. “Whether intentionally or not, Musk has unleashed a storm of hate-fueled commentary that is of grave concern to Human Rights First and everyone fearful about the future of our democracy.”

For years, Human Rights First has joined advocacy groups, think tanks, and coalition partners to urge social media companies to choose public safety over profits.  With our allies, we have alerted them to harmful content, and yet it continues to exist and grow on their platforms.  We also urge social media companies to uphold their terms of service to provide users with safe experiences and deny extremists digital safe havens where they now peddle hate.  Finally, they must increase transparency into their content moderation processes and criteria, and fix their algorithms to prevent the amplification of hate.  When harm occurs, they must create robust redress mechanisms.

This past week, Kareem Shora, Human Rights First’s Executive Vice President for Programs and Policy spoke at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships’ (CP3) Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention (TVTP) Grantee Symposium.  Shora has categorized this threat as “increasingly visible in the United States” and “an existential threat to our civic institutions, to public discourse, and to democracy itself.”

Previously, our Senior Researcher on Antisemitism Elizabeth Yates testified Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on the broader threat of extremism and hate to our communities and to our democracy and the consequences of giving bigots a microphone.

Press

Published on November 8, 2022

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