First Decoding Antisemitism Report:
Why the Level of Antisemitism on the Internet could be higher than assumed

"Israel" puns, snake emojis and money metaphors: antisemitism and conspiracy ideologies on the Internet are more diverse than overt insults or threats. That is why the project “Decoding Antisemitism ”, funded by the Alfred Landecker Foundation, analyzes implicit codes, allusions and images in order to capture antisemitic denigrations. The first discourse report shows this could be a reliable method to uncover the full extent of antisemitism on the Internet.

The aim of “Decoding Antisemitism” is not only to capture explicit antisemitism, but to decipher indirect defamation qualitatively. Then, using machine learning, an algorithm will learn to recognize antisemitic codes. The results of the detailed analysis from the project's first report will be used to “feed” the algorithm.

In its first report, research teams from the Technical University of Berlin and King's College London examined reactions from the public on the Internet to media coverage of British and German mainstream outlets. Specifically, reactions to articles on the following three topics were analyzed:

  • Interviews with the Jewish billionaire, investor and philanthropist George Soros
  • The publication of the EHRC (Equality and Human Rights Commission) report on antisemitism in the British Labor Party
  • Reports on the measures taken against the Covid-19 pandemic

The scientists primarily analyzed debates on the Facebook profiles of the British media “Daily Mail”, “The Guardian” and “The Independent”. In the reports on the Covid-19 pandemic, the focus was on debates on Facebook profiles of German media.

The extent of antisemitism on the Internet is higher than keyword analyzes suggest

The extent of antisemitism found in the online comments was surprising. "The search for antisemitic vocabulary initially indicated that there was hardly any antisemitism in the comments," says Dr. Matthias J. Becker, head of the project from the Technical University of Berlin. "Only the analysis of the comments with reference to metaphors, icons and allusions made the extent visible and showed the broad spectrum of implicit antisemitic expressions."

  • 15.2 percent of a total of 1,244 online comments examined on the Facebook profiles of "Daily Mail", "The Guardian" and "The Independent" reporting on Soros were antisemitic
  • This value hardly differed for “The Guardian”, “The Independent” (15.0 percent) and the “Daily Mail” (15.4 percent)
  • Across the nine investigated Facebook threads on the EHRC report (a total of 1,272 comments) the proportion was even greater with 17.2 percent of comments being anti-Semitic

The Alfred Landecker Foundation implements the three-year project “Decoding Antisemitism” together with the Center for Research on Antisemitism at the Technical University of Berlin and King’s College London. The next discourse report with the results of the first contrastive analyzes will be published in August 2021.

You can download the complete first discourse report here.

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An Introduction to Decoding Antisemitism
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