Covid conspiracy theories are driving people to anti-Semitism online

Warning: Antiracist advocacy group Hope not Hate warns that conspiracy theories about covid are spreading anti-Semitic beliefs. According to the report, not only has the pandemic rekindled interest in the New World Order conspiracy theory about a secret Jewish-run elite who aims to rule the world but far-right activists also attempted to convert anti-lockdown beliefs and anti-vaccine beliefs to active anti-Semitism.
Worst offenders While some of the coded language is hidden from detection and moderation algorithms, much of it can be easily identified. The authors discovered a direct correlation between anti-Semitism and the level of moderation: the more moderated it is, the greater the problem.

Here are some details: Telegram, a messaging app, has been identified as one of the worst culprits. It hosts many channels that promote anti-Semitic content and boasts tens to thousands of members. Since its February 2021 inception, a channel that promotes New World Order conspiracy theories has gained over 90,000. It is a problem on all platforms. TikTok's Jewish creators have complained about being subject to a flood of anti-Semitism. They are also often targeted by mass-reporting groups that seek to ban their accounts temporarily.

One case study: The authors cite a man who was radicalized by the pandemic as an example of how people can be pushed to adopt more extreme views. Attila Hildmann, a German vegan chef, was successful at the beginning of 2020. But in just one year, he went from being ostensibly apolitical and asking questions on social media to spreading hate and inciting violence via his Telegram channel.

What can be done? Many platforms have worked for well over a decade on how to regulate and moderate hate speech. Some progress has been made. The report states that while major platforms are better at eliminating anti-Semitic organisations, they still struggle to remove antisemitic content from individuals.