New York, NY, November 8, 2011 … Internet providers need to take a more proactive stand against bigotry and have a responsibility to use their own technology "first, to find hate; and second, to quantify how much hate is out there," the head of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said in a speech challenging the industry to step up their battle against online hate.
Speaking at the League's annual meeting last week, National Director Abraham H. Foxman issued a clarion call to Internet service providers to adopt policies that show greater transparency and leadership in addressing hatred online.
"Internet providers have a responsibility to use their own technology: First, to find hate, and second, to quantify how much hate is out there so that we can measure progress over time," Mr. Foxman said in an address to more than 300 ADL leaders from across the country.
"They should create industry standards. They should promote anti-hate messages. They should devote more resources to educating users. They should respond directly to complainants. They should work with experts in hate, like ADL. … In other words, they should find more ways to show they care, and to be responsible corporate citizens."
While many sites are well-intentioned when it comes to dealing with hate speech, Mr. Foxman said Internet companies are not doing enough to address the problem
He noted that ADL has worked effectively in the past with various Internet providers -- among them Google, Amazon and Facebook -- to deal with issues of anti-Semitism and hate speech, and would continue to do so. But Mr. Foxman maintained that some providers still have ambiguous policies toward bigotry.
One is Facebook. While Facebook has taken its responsibility to fight online hate very seriously, it has yet to effectively deal with the issue of Holocaust denial on their pages. Some Facebook users have created profiles for the express purpose of spreading Holocaust denial, and Facebook allows those pages to exist in the community. This, Mr. Foxman said, violates their own anti-hate rules which prohibit anti-Semitism.
"Holocaust denial is more than historical revisionism, it is anti-Semitism," Mr. Foxman said. It is time for Facebook and other providers to recognize this and to take action to remove Holocaust denial content from their community, where hatred and anti-Semitism has no place."
Also at the annual meeting, held November 3-5 in New York City, ADL's National Commission adopted a resolution calling on the operators of Internet services that permit postings by others and where there is the significant potential for hate speech to exercise their right to require real-name identification, or at the very least, registration with real names of people posting through their services.