A new report prepared by B’nai Brith Canada has found a "disturbing and concerning" level of propagation of anti-Semitism and hate by social media algorithms.
According to B’nai Brith, these algorithms also “promote alarming glorification of violence and misinformation in Canada.”
The report found that social media algorithms recommend “toxic content” to their users and do not remove accounts and content that violates their own community standards.
B’nai Brith said that it “is equipped to work with policy-makers to better understand this issue and help to hold social media companies accountable in the realm of tackling hate in all its forms on their platforms.”
The study was conducted its study over a 21-day period during which B’nai Brith monitored activity on Instagram and Twitter using several fake social-media accounts. The objective was to determine how much interaction is required for the algorithm to promote inflammatory content that violates the companies’ codes of conduct.
They key findings were that of the accounts recommended in a sample during a single day of the study, 58 percent directly violated Instagram’s code of conduct.
Hate-inspired hashtags – examples given included #jewscontrolthemedia, #hitlerwasright – are prevalent and easy to access using internal search engines in both platforms.
“The auto-complete function on Twitter offers an extra level of direction to users by providing trending hate-inspired hashtags,” said the study.
When posts and accounts were reported for violating the platforms’ hate speech policies, they were “almost never removed.”
The algorithms needed little prompting to suggest results “containing significant misinformation and hate speech targeting Jews and other minority groups.”
In the report, B’nai Brith recommended actions that authorities and policymakers can take to stem anti-Semitism, hate speech and misinformation on social media.
“Intentional or not, social media companies are saying hatred of Jews is fair game,” said B’nai Brith Canada CEO Michael Mostyn.
“Hatred online puts the Jewish community at risk, destroys social cohesion and jeopardizes our democracy. This is a huge problem that must be rectified immediately by policy-makers. It is time for concrete action against the social media giants.”