Social media at the centre of rise in UK antisemitic incidents

9 Feb 2015

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Recorded incidents of antisemitism in the UK are on the rise, a report from British charity Community Security Trust (CST) reveals.

CST recorded 1,168 antisemitic incidents in 2014, more than double the 535 incidents logged the previous year and a record high since the annual statistics began being produced in 1984.

The organisation said 233 antisemitic incidents involved the use of social media, compared to 88 such incidents in 2013. Though reactions to the conflict in Israel and Gaza that took place in July and August was acknowledged as the single biggest factor in the spike, CST also noted a 38pc increase in incidents during the first six months of 2014 compared to the same period in 2013.

According to CST, incidents involving the use of social media are only recorded if “they have been reported by a member of the public who fulfils the role of a victim or witness; if the comment shows evidence of antisemitic content, motivation or targeting; and if the offender is based in the United Kingdom or has directly targeted a UK-based victim”.

Banning abusers

To tackle this rise in hate speech, an All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into antisemitism wants prosecutors to examine if prevention orders to restrict offenders’ internet access could be used, according to Independent reports.

“There is an allowance in the law for banning or blocking individuals from certain aspects of internet communication in relation to sexual offences,” read a report released by the inquiry, which was produced separately to CST’s release.

“If it can be proven in a detailed way that someone has made a considered and determined view to exploit various online networks to harm and perpetrate hate crimes against others then the accepted principles, rules and restrictions that are relevant to sex offences must surely apply.”

The inquiry praised Facebook as a “willing partner” in tackling antisemitism, though noted “serious concerns” about Twitter and its complaints procedures.

Internet abuse image via Shutterstock

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Dean is a freelance journalist and editor covering media.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com