Anti-Defamation League reports accounts repeating tweets against Jews are most likely bots.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, almost 30 percent of Twitter’s anti-Semitic posts in the United States are put forth by bots. The derogatory messages have certainly increased in recent years as hate speech becomes more common and as the U.S. Midterm Elections approach. While it is clear that humans are still responsible for the majority of the hateful messages, it is not entirely clear who is behind all the bots or the point of their messages.
It is not altogether unusual for a surge in hate speech in the weeks leading up to an important event such as the elections, but the use of bots shows that people are using unusual means to convey their hate speech. The exact goals of the anti-Semitic campaign are unknown, but the ADL suggests in their study that “Anonymity and automation are integral features of computational propaganda—the use of algorithms over social media in attempts to manipulate public opinion.” Thus, it seems likely if not probably that there is a push to divide Americans based on religious or ethnic ideals, turning to the Jewish people as a frequent scapegoat for issues in the nation.
The human-based hate speech is a concern in the weeks leading up to the elections as well. 70 percent of hate speech on Twitter targeted towards specific people and tormenting the Jewish community at large is done by humans. Yet, there is another wrinkle to this story that is gaining attention, and that is whether these tweets are actually U.S. citizens or foreign entities sowing discord.
Nearly a third of nazi trolls are bots according to new ADL study. https://t.co/o4ytx4VXnq
— David Carroll 🦅 (@profcarroll) November 1, 2018
Much like in the 2016 election, it is suspected many of the accounts used to be divisive were actually Russian “trolls” in disguise. The prevalence of anti-Semitic social media could very well be a concerted effort on the part of the same people, bringing discord ahead of the elections to sway public opinion and affect the votes. However, even the ADL did not get too deep into that conjecture or the reasons behind it. The fact remains that more social media posts are attacking Jewish people, and they are not all being made by human beings.
There is no doubt there has been a recent and sizable uptick in anti-Semitic activity. Between the awful loss of lives at the Tree of Life Synagogue, frequent incidents of vandalism, and online hate speech, it’s clear Jewish communities are frequently in the crosshairs of hateful people. The next step is deciding how to quell hate speech and rein in the bots to reduce the impact it has on the Jewish community and public opinion at large.