Anti-Defamation League Steps Up Efforts To Combat Anti-Semitism Online : All Tech Considered The Anti-Defamation League is hiring a Silicon Valley representative to lead efforts to combat anti-Semitism and other hate speech online, says CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.
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Anti-Defamation League Steps Up Efforts To Combat Anti-Semitism Online

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Anti-Defamation League Steps Up Efforts To Combat Anti-Semitism Online

Anti-Defamation League Steps Up Efforts To Combat Anti-Semitism Online

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

One disturbing feature of this election cycle has been the growth in anti-Semitic hate speech online. Jewish journalists in particular have been receiving insults, slurs and threats on Twitter and other social media.

So this week, the Anti-Defamation League announced that it is hiring a representative in Silicon Valley to work with tech companies and help fight anti-Semitic abuse.

Jonathan Greenblatt is the CEO of the ADL. Thanks for joining us.

JONATHAN GREENBLATT: Thank you for having me.

SHAPIRO: Can you give us an example of something that made you think, yeah, we need to do this now?

GREENBLATT: So two examples that really caught our attention this year were when Julia Ioffe, a freelancer who was writing for GQ and did a piece on Melania Trump. After it was published, she was viciously attacked, harassed online. And that actually shifted also offline. And she was targeted by white supremacists in a coordinated campaign that was really quite merciless. It included not only anti-Semitism, but death threats again, and all form of harassment.

Jonathan Weisman, who is the deputy political editor for The New York Times, had tweeted a piece that was done by Bob Kagan about the election. And that, for whatever reason, prompted a number of these extremists to target him with similar harassment and hate that continue to pace.

SHAPIRO: And what exactly are you asking tech companies to do?

GREENBLATT: Well, the ADL for years has worked with technology companies to deal with hate. But the fact of the matter is, they need to do more.

The racists used to hand out their materials in paper bags on a street corner. Today, they hand out their hate on Facebook. And they were, you know, burning crosses 50 years ago. Today, they're burning up Twitter.

So these companies have a responsibility to keep these platforms safe for all of their users, even as they respect free speech.

SHAPIRO: A lot of tech companies talk about the importance of free speech, as you mentioned. And sometimes they seem resistant to put limits on what people are able to say.

GREENBLATT: That's right.

SHAPIRO: How are you received when you say to Silicon Valley companies, we need you to put these new policies in place that inevitably may limit speech?

GREENBLATT: Earlier this year, we worked with Google and Apple to take down extensions and apps that were made available in their online stores that facilitated identifying Jewish journalists. It was called this echo symbol. It was an app that would allow a browser...

SHAPIRO: Right. It's like parentheses around a person's name.

GREENBLATT: Exactly. And this was being used by white supremacists to identify people they thought - public figures - were Jewish.

SHAPIRO: You know, both of the examples you gave of journalists being persecuted who were Jewish, were examples of journalists who had published or tweeted something about Donald Trump. And Donald Trump's campaign has received a lot of support from white supremacist groups, which the campaign has disavowed.

Do you think that the Trump campaign is doing enough to address this problem?

GREENBLATT: As a nonprofit organization, the ADL doesn't take a position on candidates or political parties. I think it's incumbent upon both candidates to call out hate, to disavow racism and anti-Semitism, and to push back on the bigots. But I will tell you this, the amount of vitriol and hatred we've seen during this election season has been staggering.

SHAPIRO: I appreciate that you're a nonpartisan group. But it must be said, Donald Trump Jr. used a gas chamber analogy. Donald Trump himself was accused of using this anti-Semitic symbol, the six-pointed star. The same level of accusations just have not been made against the Clinton campaign.

GREENBLATT: I think that's a fair observation. And I think that's right. In both instances, we've been on the record and engaged with the Trump campaign because we were concerned about these - the use of these tropes and sharing these symbols. They're deeply problematic.

Now, with that said, you know, we think it's really important, particularly down this home stretch, that everyone running for public office explicitly, firmly not only disavows, but makes it clear - the American people - that racism, anti-Semitism and intolerance have no place in the public square.

SHAPIRO: Jonathan Greenblatt is CEO and national director of the Anti-Defamation League. Thanks for joining us.

GREENBLATT: Thank you.

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