The popular crowdsourced online dictionary is still posting anti-Semitic content despite pledge to remove hate speech.
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
The popular website Urban Dictionary is under fire for continuing to allow hate speech on its website.
Described as an “open collaborative online dictionary,” Urban Dictionary (UD) is actually a private company based in San Francisco. It is a platform that allows anybody to post their own definition of a word or term.
Urban Dictionary founder Aaron Pekham started the site in 1999 while studying computer science in California. He wanted an alternative fun website that wasn’t restricted like formal online dictionaries where terms were defined by closed committees.
The UD website is also hooked into Twitter, where it recently re-tweeted an anti-Semitic trope in the definition of “anti-Zionism,” saying in part that that “Zionism is about gathering Jews in one place for the comfort of Jewish tax-collectors.”
The site provides many other definitions that are anti-Semitic and anti-Israel in nature. WD defines the term zio-vermin as “those associated with the promotion/furthering of the interests of the Zionist state, regardless of the cost in human life.”
The site grew in popularity and turned into a moneymaker for Pekham with tens of millions of visitors monthly, product sales and advertising streams. But with little to no editing or policing of what was posted, the site became popular among racists and hate mongers.
Peckham’s refusal to deal with hate speech on his website gave him bad press. The Daily Telegraph described Urban Dictionary as “a hotbed for racist and sexist rhetoric.”
The leading tech news magazine Wired in 2017 described UD as “horrifically racist” and observed that “owner Aaron Peckham doesn’t seem to care.”
Last year Wired again looked at UD and found there had been no changes. The website was “inhospitable” and represented “the worst of the internet … a harbor for hate speech.”
“Peckham opened the door for the most insidious among us. Racism, homophobia, xenophobia, and sexism currently serve as the basis for some of the most popular definitions on the site,” Wired wrote.
The negative coverage prompted Peckham last month to post that his website had been “inundated by hate speech and abusive content ” and therefore he was “rethinking the dictionary.”
“We have failed to keep abusive content off our site,” Peckham said. “Hate speech and abusive content will evolve, and we’re committed to changing our policies to meet it.”
However, in the month since Peckham’s posting there appears to have been no change to Urban Dictionary and the hate speech, including the presence of anti-Semitic tropes and anti-Israel slander.
“Urban Dictionary is small in the grand scheme of things and so its crackdown on speech isn’t as relevant as the practices on monopoly platforms such as Facebook and YouTube, where public discourse can be molded at the flick of a switch,” said Didi Rankovic of the organization ReclaimTheNet.org.