ADL Announces Plan to Hold Social Media Platforms Accountable for Online Hate

Photo by Ki?u Tr??ng, Pixabay

Online hate has continued to rise, in spite of technology companies insisting that they are trying to stem the tide of hateful content. A new survey released by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) found that online hate has risen for almost every minority group, with Asian-Americans and African-Americans seeing a large rise in online hate and harassment over the past year.

According to the survey, Asian-Americans have experience the largest single rise in severe online harassment and hate in comparison to other groups, with 17 percent having experienced some form of online harassment or hate. This includes sexual harassment, stalking, physical threats, swatting, doing, or sustain harassment in the past year. Of those, 50 percent report that the harassment was because of their race or ethnicity.

Black Americans also saw a sharp rise in online harassment, with 59 percent attributing that harassment to race. This after the Black Lives Matter protest movement kicked off in response to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and too many other Black individuals. Perhaps one of the largest protest movements in American history, BLM drew at least 15 million Americans across the country in both online and physical protests – and was met with backlash in both arenas.

“This survey shows that even as technology companies insist that they are taking unprecedented steps to moderate hateful content on their social media platforms, the user experience hasn’t changed all that much. Americans of many different backgrounds continue to experience online hate and harassment at levels that are totally unacceptable,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “And not surprisingly, after a year where national figures including the president himself routinely scapegoated China and Chinese people for spreading the coronavirus, Asian-Americans experienced heightened levels of harassment online, just as they did offline.”

In response to the growing tide of racially-motivated online hate, the ADL announced their REPAIR Plan to hold technology companies more accountable for addressing online hate in all its forms, including online harassment, antisemitism, anti-Muslim bigotry, racism, extremist disinformation, and domestic terrorism. According to the ADL, the plan prioritizes:

  • Regulation and reform – Reforming Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to end the near-total immunity from liability enjoyed by tech companies for unlawful user content and conduct, while also focusing on changes that do not result in an overbroad suppression of free speech, nor unintentionally cement the monopolistic power of Big Tech.
  • Enforcement at scale – Ensuring that platforms establish and enforce anti-hate policies at scale and allow for independent verification.
  • People over profit – Prioritizing people over profit by demanding social media companies stop amplifying inflammatory content to increase their ad revenue and users, and provide people who are harmed effective access to reporting and remedies.
  • Access to justice – Increasing protections for targets and victims of online harassment by closing gaps in state and federal laws that currently deny legal redress.
  • Interrupting disinformation
  • Research and innovation

“It has become increasingly clear that on their own, technology companies are not effectively preventing hate and extremism from proliferating online,” Greenblatt said. “Our REPAIR Plan aims to rectify this problem by offering a comprehensive framework for platforms and policymakers to take meaningful action to decrease online hate and extremism.”

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