Anti-semitism has been alive and well not just for decades, but for centuries, and has expanded its grasp to reach every corner of the world. As society has progressed with technology, specifically towards social media, the expression of hate has managed to creep its way into these forums as well. And although our technological advances have been amazing, has it also helped create a place for anti-Semitism to grow?
There is no doubt that the internet has been a useful resource since its creation, and has helped millions across the globe form and keep connections. However, it appears that it has helped fuel the connections between hate groups as well. Hateful people can now thrive thanks to the internet by creating chats, forums, and events on websites such as 4chan, Facebook, Reddit, and practically every other social media. As the internet provides a place for hundreds of thousands of people to build relationships based on common interests, this unfortunately includes those with harmful intentions and beliefs.
4Chan is an anonymous online forum where people can make comments and share images without their identity being revealed. It is also one of the biggest online contributors towards hate speech. A study posted on Vice’s website showed that there was at least one comment with hate speech for every fifteen and that hate speech comments on the 4chan website have gone up 40% in the last 6 years. 4Chan is widely known for being a place where neo-Nazi members can come and openly discuss their views on the board titled “politically incorrect.” In general, this site has always had negative connotations associated with it due to its anonymity aspect, which has allowed people to be openly racist without the possibility of being targeted.
Facebook is a simpler example because it’s more widely known. Its popularity has spread to groups who typically don’t have as big of a presence on social media like teachers, parents, and even grandparents. The website itself has always seemed harmless – after all, it’s a nice way to connect with people, catch up on daily news, and share funny memes with your friends. But even on these kinds of websites, anti-Semitism still shows its ugly face. Despite Facebook being heavily watched by authorities for those who support or encourage hate, it’s nearly impossible to catch every single comment. It’s much harder to accuse someone of racism when they are simply posting their opinion rather than being blatantly hateful. Thankfully, Facebook is a much safer environment as of late because they now filter the comment section and delete anything believed to be harmful or discriminatory.
And now to loop back to the original question: has the internet helped spread anti-Semitism and other hate? The answer isn’t as simple as ‘yes’ or ‘no’, but probably falls somewhere in between. Yes, anti-Semitism has existed long before the internet, and hate groups and their crimes have still thrived without it. But it’s now much easier for those in hate groups to connect with each other and form an even bigger threat or worse, encourage others and pass down their beliefs to innocent people. For now, one simple solution could be to get rid of all anonymous forums despite their huge fanbase. The anonymity aspect of it gives the user freedom to spew hate and there’s no logical reason for most neutral posts to even be anonymous. On the other hand, Facebook is taking a huge step forward by banning members who appear to support groups such as the alt-right and Neo-Nazis. If more social media sites can follow in their footsteps, then maybe the internet could put a stop to the hate that only seems to be growing online.