ADL is well aware that bulletin boards and chat rooms maintained by major
Internet providers have become avenues for airing hateful anti-Semitic and
anti-Israel rhetoric in the wake of the outbreak of violence in the Middle East.
Many offensive postings have included extreme, anti-Semitic or incendiary
anti-Israel comments that go well beyond reasonable disagreements of opinion
about the conflict.
Because of the ephemeral nature of chat room postings, it can be difficult
– if not impossible – to document all occurrences of hateful rhetoric. Yet
there is clear evidence it is happening. ADL’s Internet Monitoring Unit has
come across chat room messages that were clearly hateful or anti-Semitic in
It is virtually impossible to constantly monitor the thousands of chat rooms
and bulletin boards that exist in cyberspace. However, most major Internet
providers and Web site operators do encourage users to report violators. These
providers are generally quick to respond to complaints about offensive postings
on their service. In situations involving hate speech, most service providers
act immediately and decisively to remove the offensive material and, in some
cases, terminate the account of any individual who violates their policies
forbidding hate speech.
ADL remains in contact with a number of major Internet service providers,
including AOL, MSN, Yahoo and others with whom we maintain working
relationships, to notify them of the extent of the problem and point out
specific incidents that warrant action.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: If you encounter anti-Semitism or similar hate speech in
chat rooms, take action and report the incident directly to the Internet
provider. Most responsible Internet providers have policies in the form of user
agreements or "terms of service" that explicitly forbid hate speech.
And most have systems in place for reporting violators, be it a special form
dedicated to the purpose, or an e-mail address designated for user complaints.
REMEMBER! In order to act, the Internet service provider must be alerted immediately
after the incident occurs. Waiting a day only lessens the likelihood that
the offending user will get caught. Keep in mind that it is more rewarding (and
more effective in the long run) to report offensive content to Internet
providers than it is to attempt to issue a rebuttal or engage in dialogue with
an individual who engages in hateful or incendiary rhetoric.
While the anti-Semites and haters of the Internet can reappear with new
screen names and identities as quickly as they are jettisoned, repeatedly losing
one’s Internet account privileges due to inappropriate or hateful remarks can