Jews disproportionately targeted for online hate and abuse

ADL survey identifies Facebook the harshest place for Jews and other minorities.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The Anti-Defamation League’s fourth annual survey of online hate shows that individuals in marginalized groups are abused at disproportionately high levels, and the numbers aren’t going down despite greater recognition of the problem.

The harshest place to be online by far was Facebook, with 68 percent of the harassment reported there to date, although it has gone down to 57% in the last year.

The runners-up were Instagram and Twitter, with some 27% and 21% saying they had suffered on these sites in the past 12 months, numbers that are similar to their history to date.

Among those harassed the most percentage-wise were the LBGTQ+ community, Jews, youth and blacks.

While Jews are an estimated one percent of the adult American population, they experienced online harassment at similar rates as non-Jews. According to the findings, 37% reported experiencing some kind of abuse at some point in their lives, with 23% reporting “severe” harassment. When asked about the last year specifically, the overall number dropped to 21%.

Severe harassment includes physical threats, sustained harassment, stalking, sexual harassment, doxing and swatting. Doxing is when one’s private information is released online, and swatting is having an emergency vehicle dispatched to one’s home as a hoax.

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Jews were far more likely to attribute harassment they experienced to their religion than non-Jews: 37% compared to 14% of non-Jews. They were also much more likely be worried about future harassment due to their religion (83% to 44%).

Far more attributed the motivation for the hatred directed their way to their political views instead, with 64% saying this was the reason for the harassment, compared to 43% of non-Jews saying that this was the reason for being assaulted online.

The ADL believes its youth survey (those aged 13-17) was the first of its kind, and reported “alarmingly high” numbers for this group. Nearly half (47%) reported ever experiencing some type of harassment, with 25% saying it had been “severe.” Over two thirds attributed it to their physical appearance (36%) or race/ethnicity (30%).

More than a third (36%) were harassed in the past 12 months, 15% of it severe. Almost a third (29%) experienced emotional or mental health challenges as a result.

Among the various groups, the Asian American community was the one that experienced the largest spike in harassment over the last year, jumping from 21% in 2021 to 39% in 2022.

While overall, only 8% of the people surveyed reported the online hate to police, that possible outcome didn’t even make the list for either the Jewish or Asian populations. They did outnumber their counterparts in reporting the problem to the platforms themselves, with 25% of them doing so compared to the average of 17% of the others.

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Whether the platforms are doing enough in response is debatable. Online harassment in general has only gone down 5% in the last year, to 23%, and the rate of severe harassment only declined from 14% to 12%.

“Social media companies are nowhere near where they need to be when it comes to hate and harassment on their platforms,” said ADL head Jonathan Greenblatt upon release of the report, officially entitled “Online Hate and Harassment: The American Experience 2022.”