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Holocaust Remembrance Day: Alarming Rise in Antisemitism in Social Media

Holocaust Remembrance Day Antisemitism
The façade of the City Hall of Athens is illuminated with the words #WeRemember, in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Credit: Twitter/@LeonSaltiel

On Holocaust Remembrance Day published research shows that antisemitism is rife in social media.

As the world remembers Nazi atrocities and commemorates the 77th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp, German parliament speaker Baerbel Bas noted that the coronavirus pandemic has acted “like an accelerant” to already burgeoning antisemitism.

Due to the pandemic, many International Holocaust Remembrance Day events are being held online this year again. A small public ceremony, however, was to take place at the site of the former Auschwitz death camp, where World War II Nazi German forces killed 1.1 million people in occupied Poland. The memorial site was closed earlier in the pandemic but reopened in June.

In all, about 6 million European Jews and millions of other people were killed by the Nazis and their collaborators during the Holocaust. Some 1.5 million were children.

The Holocaust of the Greek Jews was one of the darkest episode of the Nazi occupation of the country of Greece.

Once part of thriving communities in several Greek cities, approximately 59,000 Greek Jews were victims of the Holocaust — at least 83 percent of the total number living in Greece at the time of World War II and the German Occupation.

Holocaust Remembrance Day: “Antisemitism not just on the extreme fringe”

“Antisemitism is here — it isn’t just on the extreme fringe, not just among the eternally incorrigible and a few anti-Semitic trolls on the net,” she said. “It is a problem of our society — all of society,” Bas said.

In a post on Twitter, President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou noted: “Today, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, we honor the millions of victims of the Nazi horror and renew our commitment that the darkness of antisemitism and racism will never again prevail.”

A recent report by campaign group Hope Not Hate found that antisemitism has been growing in social media platforms during the pandemic, with young people exposed to hateful content via platforms such as TikTok and Instagram.

Antisemitism growing on TikTok and other social media

The research, entitled Anti-Semitism in the Digital Age: Online Anti-Semitic Hate, Holocaust Denial, Conspiracy Ideologies and Terrorism in Europe, found that the most extreme and violent content was on more niche platforms such as Telegram, Parler, and 4chan.

However, it warned that potentially millions of young people are also being introduced to conspiracy theories and antisemitism via Instagram and TikTok, where Hope Hot Hate officials said such content was also prevalent.

According to the report, there are “millions” of results for hashtags relating to antisemitic conspiracy theories on Instagram. On TikTok, a collection of just three hashtags linked to antisemitism were viewed more than 25 million times in six months.

To tackle the problem of Holocaust denial, UNESCO and the World Jewish Congress launched a partnership Thursday with TikTok, which is very popular with young people. They say it will allow users to be oriented toward verified information when searching for terms related to the Shoah.

According to the U.N., 17% of content related to the Holocaust on TikTok either denied or distorted the Holocaust.

“All online platforms must take responsibility for the spread of hate speech by promoting reliable sources of information,” says UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay.

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