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Antisemitism Online

The Woolf Institute completed a study of antisemitism on various social media platforms in partnership with two leading British Jewish organisations: the Antisemitism Policy Trust (whose members form the Secretariat of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Antisemitism) and the Community Security Trust.

Using innovative social media data analysis tools, the study addresses various questions concerning the extent online forms of antisemitism using social media data gathered from Google, Instagram and Twitter.

Previous research work in this area has established the nature of antisemitism online and the ineffectiveness of measures taken by social media companies to tackle it. The Woolf Institute took on the challenge of developing tools to measure, for the first time, the scale of the problem. Our work is intended to establish baseline measurements to guide future studies of antisemitism and other forms of hatred online.

To undertake the analysis, we applied bespoke social media analysis methods using Mozdeh (an open source social media analysis tool developed at the University of Wolverhampton) and a commercially-available platform developed by Pulsar (a leading market research company).

The first of three reports – a study of data collected using Google image searches - was published in May 2021. We found that neither of Google's two main "safe search" functions – one designed to protect the public, the other to assist web developers – had any effect on filtering out antisemitic content.

A second report – a study of Instagram hashtags and the links between antisemitism, conspiracy theories and anti-Israeli attitudes on the platform – is due to published in September 2021. A third study of antisemitism and Twitter will be published towards the end of 2021.

Download the report, 'Unsafe Search: Why Google's SafeSearch function is not fit for purpose'.

For more information, contact Dr Julian Hargreaves at jh970@cam.ac.uk.