Rabbi Goldschmidt: Social media must do more to combat hate speech online

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt warned that recent antisemitic attacks were "digitally inspired"

RABBI PINCHAS GOLDSCHMIDT: Jews become the collateral damage (photo credit: FABRIZIO BENSCH / REUTERS)
RABBI PINCHAS GOLDSCHMIDT: Jews become the collateral damage
Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis (CER) and chief rabbi of Moscow, chaired a panel discussion at the Munich Security Conference on "combating hate crimes" on February 14, a statement from CER said. He was speaking alongside Maram Stern, executive vice president of the World Jewish Congress.
The discussion was on the spread of antisemitism, far-right extremism and Islamophobia on social media. One of the main focuses was that social media platforms must do more to regulate their channels and to deal with hate speech online.
"The internet has created a vast arena in which those who hold a deep hatred towards religious groups, for instance, are able to share their views with others," said Goldschmidt.
"More worryingly, they use a variety of platforms such as instant messaging to share dangerous tactics in their attempt to attack – both verbally and physically – those who do not subscribe to their way of thinking or choice of lifestyle," he warned.
"The evidence is clear: Hate and prejudice [are] commonplace on social media. The Halle synagogue on Yom Kippur and the mosque attack in Christchurch, New Zealand are prime examples of digitally inspired attacks," Goldschmidt concluded.
Goldschmidt also added that with legal protections for free speech, it was harder for governments to police hate speech, but that private companies had more flexibility, Israel Hayom reported. But Israel Hayom said that some panelists argued that governments could do more if they made the issue a priority.
The panel suggested that, in order to know when to respond to hate crimes online, the strategy used in the digital fight against the Islamic state could be copied. The strategy involved major platforms joining forces to remove online jihadism from forums and accounts internationally, CER wrote in the statement.
One of the panelists, Alex Samos, former Chief Security Officer at Facebook, argued while that there is a broad government coalition against the Islamic State, “there is no broad alliance of states against right-wing extremism,” according to CER.
“If an Islamist contribution is censored, nobody cares. If they censor right-wing extremist politicians, that leads to a problem because some of them are sitting in governments,” he accused.