Board of Deputies asks Facebook to use IHRA antisemitism definition

The Board of Deputies of British Jews sent an official letter to Facebook asking the company to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.

The request was in response to a violent comment written to one of the organization’s members that was reported to Facebook’s new Oversight Board, which answered saying that the comment, and various other written in the same manner, “did not violate our community standards.”

The comments in response to a post made by Jackie Walker, a former member of the British Labour party who was booted for antisemitism.

“Dear BoD, Kier Starmer, ‘Jewish Community Groups’ — if you want race conflict, you are going the right way. Stop it now,” the post read.

A user who goes by the name Paul Blackburn responded by writing, “Bomb the bod!” After another user commented that this was inciting violence, Blackman wrote ““F**kin right it is [an incitement to violence]! The bullet & the bomb is the only way this country will ever be free!”

Though the comments were later deleted, no action was taken against the users who posted them, which, according to the organization’s President Marie van der Zyl, is typical of Facebook’s handling of such cases.

Though she acknowledged the importance of keeping free speech on the platform, she said that Facebook needs to play its part in protecting members of society.

“We respect the importance that the company places on free speech, but this should not include a tolerance of hate speech — inciting violence or spreading falsehoods about people due to their race, religion, sexuality or any other protected characteristic,” Van der Zyl stated. “We put it to you that this approach is crucial if Facebook is to play its part in protecting society’s weakest and most vulnerable.”

In order to enforce that, she suggested that Facebook embrace the IHRAdefinition of antisemitism, which states:

“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.” according to their official site.

Earlier, Amazon’s video game live-streaming platform Twitch has announced they will be forming  an advisory council of experienced users, online safety experts and anti-bullying advocates to help improve safety on the site.

The council’s eight members will advise on product and policy changes, focusing on areas such as harassment and protection of marginalized groups.

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