While much of the world is mulling billionaire Elon Musk’s $44 billion purchase of Twitter, another news story caught my eye.
Anti-semitic incidents in the US last year were up by more than 34%–with actual assaults up over 160% year-to-year. These are the highest numbers in the 40+ years the Anti-Defamation League has been tracking these events.
While there’s not a direct connection between these two stories, Musk’s stated intention in buying Twitter is to allow for more free speech on the platform. There’s concern he will undo all the work Twitter has done over the last several years to curb hate speech, prevent online harassment, limit posts on sexual violence and assault, and ban false or misleading posts about COVID-19 and vaccines.
Unfortunately, there’s a correlation between hateful, violent, and misleading social media posts and actual acts of hate, violence, and harassment of groups targeted by these posts. This includes not just Jews, but Asian-Americans, African-Americans, Hispanics, Muslims, immigrants, and people in the LGBTQ community.
We saw the positive power of social media in the aftermath of the George Floyd murder, the arrest and conviction of Ahmed Abery’s killers, and the widespread support for the current plight of the Ukrainian people. Now it’s up to all of us to be on the lookout for hateful content masquerading as free speech.
If we push back, we can make it clear these kind of incidents and posts won’t fly. Even on Twitter.
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