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US Legislators Launch International Effort to Combat Antisemitism Online

The US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

A bipartisan group of US legislators have announced the formation of the Interparliamentary Task Force to Combat Online Antisemitism in cooperation with fellow lawmakers from Canada, Israel, Australia and the UK.

The goal of the group is to generate legislative and political pressure on social media companies to protect their platforms from users who engage in hate speech and propaganda online — a tendency that has grown steadily over the past year, as antisemitic conspiracy theories accusing Jews of being behind the coronavirus pandemic have mushroomed across multiple platforms.

“It has never been easier than now for anti-Semites to connect and spread hateful propaganda using social media,” said Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fl), one of the founders of the Task Force, in a statement on Tuesday. “These platforms have a responsibility to ensure that they are not being used freely by purveyors of hate.”

Joining Deutch in launching the Task Force on the US side were Reps. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Fl), Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Mario Díaz-Balart (R-CA).

Smith noted that “we are living though a time when antisemitism is increasingly spread over the internet and electronic media. Alt-Right groups such as The Base and the Atomwaffen Division, along with Russia’s Internet Research Agency, spread antisemitic tropes online and via apps such as TELEGRAM. We need to be ever vigilant with regard to all forms of antisemitic hatred, whether it comes from the alt-Right, the political Left, or Islamist groups.”

Wasserman-Schultz stated that against the background of an ongoing pandemic, the work of the Task Force carried an even greater urgency.

“We must demand real, global accountability and strong social media safeguards,” she said.

Other parliamentarians who have joined the new group include the Canadian Liberal MP Anthony Housefather, Knesset Member Michal Cotler-Wunsh of Israel’s Blue and White Party and British Labour Party MP Alex Sobel.

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