Internet companies, ADL release 'cyberhate' guidelines

The work groups first convened in 2012 under the direction of the Anti Defamation League, or ADL, an organization dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism and other forms of racial and ethnic hatred.

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September 28, 2014 20:13
1 minute read.
Abraham H. Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, shows the book "The Bible, the J

Abraham H. Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, shows the book "The Bible, the Jews, and the Death of Jesus" . (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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A work group that included representatives from several major Internet companies released a set of best practices for combating online hate speech last week.

The work groups first convened in 2012 under the direction of the Anti Defamation League, or ADL, an organization dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism and other forms of racial and ethnic hatred.

In addition to representatives from Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and Yahoo, it included civil leaders and academics, according to an ADL press release.

The guidelines call on Internet provides to take “cyberhate” seriously and make flagging it simple and easy, and for Internet users to work together to reject and respond to hate speech.

They urge providers to “offer user-friendly mechanism and procedures for reporting hateful content” and to “respond to user reports in a timely manner.”

A statement from Christine Y. Chen, Google’s senior public policy manager, called the guidelines “a good reminder that we must all work together to keep the Internet a safe and open place.”


The ADL plans on recruiting other Internet and social media organizations to joint its effort against cyberhate, according to the ADL press release. Many Internet companies, such as the ones that participated in the working group, already have policies against hate speech and systems to report it.

“These reporting systems operate much like an online neighborhood watch,” Chen wrote in the statement.

ADL’s cyberhate initiative comes at a time when anti-Semitic incidents in Europe have captured local and international media attention, such as anti-Israel marchers chanting “death to the Jews” in Belgium and Germany and the attempted firebombing of a German synagogue.

In July, the Dutch Complaints Bureau for Discrimination on the Internet, a watchdog group, reported online hate-speech against Jews was the highest since the organization was founded 17 years ago.

The ADL formed the working group in response to a call from the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism in 2012. ADL leader Art Reidel co-chaired the work group, along with Christopher Wolf, an American lawyer and anti-hate speech activist.

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