Online Anti-Semitism Is a Real (((Problem))), Why Does Twitter Allow It?

On Wednesday, the Anti-Defamation League announced a new task force to address “anti-semitic and racist harassment of journalists on social media.”

“Journalists are used to being criticized, but this election cycle we repeatedly have seen criticism quickly cross the line into ugly anti-Semitic and other hateful attacks including death threats,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “ADL has been monitoring, studying, and speaking out against anti-Semitism, racism, and other hate for years. We hope to bring our experience to this latest manifestation of it so we can take steps to address this challenge even as we strive to ensure that we do not jeopardize free speech and a free press.”

This isn’t Europe, it isn’t Turkey, or Russia. It’s the U.S. Just about all of the threats have come from supporters of Donald Trump. Much of it originates on Twitter, where Trump has some 8.6 million followers, of which about 76 percent are real active accounts.

I am a neophyte on Twitter compared to many political writers, but I am staunchly #NeverTrump. I am also of Jewish heritage (as is one fellow writer here at The Resurgent). When I posted a rather trollish piece today titled “I am a ‘Cuckservative‘” in which I laid out my opposition to the hate-filled racists, this was one of the milder replies I got.

Like I said, I am a neophyte on Twitter. Imagine what Julia Ioffe, Bethany Mandel, Jonathan Weisman, Ben Shapiro and Jonah Goldberg get. I’ve seen some of what Erick Erickson gets (he has over 150 thousand followers) and he’s about as Jewish as a fair haired Viking. It’s hateful, threatening and evil.

But notice the “((( )))” around my name. That’s alt-right anti-Semitic code for someone who’s marked (for what, I don’t know but it’s not good). Jesse Singal of New York Magazine wrote this  about the practice in a piece published Thursday.

Yesterday, Mic published an article in which Cooper Fleishman and Anthony Smith traced the history of a weird thing some alt-righters do online: They’ll put multiple parentheses around Twitter-targets’ names to indicate that they’re Jewish. It’s never happened to me, but as the New York Times’ Jonathan Weisman explained in a recent column, he got a tweet which read “Hello ((Weisman)).” It seems to be a way of saying something like “Ha, look at this Jew!,” and is often followed by a wave of the alt-right’s now-standard meme-drenched anti-Semitism.

Singal debunks Fleishman and Smith’s theory that the “((( )))” combination is impossible to block (it’s not), hard to search (it’s not), and somehow a “brilliant loophole — a code that’s difficult to filter whose meaning incites waves of hate before the target realizes what’s happening” (also false). I agree with Singal on this that they gave the alt-right idiots too much credit. They simply use the parentheses for their own grim amusement and to threaten others.

But that brings me to my central point: if Twitter has a Trust and Safety Council that’s worth anything, why do they allow this stuff to go on? Especially since the ADL is one of their inaugural members. It seems to me it’s real simple to block the thousands of accounts that use the “((( )))” like @CruisingGallows (who has 137 followers and 3,573 tweets). Let the alt-right morons find some other way to amuse themselves, then shut that down too.

It just makes too much sense. I realize that Twitter’s ship of safety lists left worse than the Titanic after the iceberg but rabid anti-Semitism and systematic flagging of anti-Trump Jews is simply unacceptable, period.

Twitter, please fix it.

About the author

Steve Berman

The old Steve cared about money, prestige, and power. Then Christ found me. All at once things changed. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

I spent 30 years in business. Now I write and edit. But mostly I love. I have a wife and 2 kids and a dog and we live in a little house in central Georgia.

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