The Anti-Defamation League is opening a Silicon Valley center aimed at combating anti-Semitism and other hate online.
The organization, which fights hate and promotes civil rights, said there has also been a rise in anti-Muslim rhetoric online since the presidential election. ADL said the new center will identify, track, analyze and mitigate online hate. It will study the intersection of cyberhate, society and technology.
“Since the [presidential] election, we've seen a surge online in anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism, and other hate speech,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt told USA Today. “It's like nothing we've seen before. Millions and millions of anti-Semitic tweets.”
Greenblatt made the announcement Sunday at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Tex. The center will author reports and provide analysis and data to the government and policymakers. It will also identify, expose and work to stop specific cases of online hate.
“Now more than ever as anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism, and other hatreds have exploded online, it’s critical that we are bringing best-in-class technology and resources to this fight. That’s why we will build this center in Silicon Valley,” Greenblatt said. “This is a natural extension of the cyberhate work ADL has been doing for decades and builds on the new presence we established last year in the Valley to collaborate even closer on the threat with the tech industry.”
In September, ADL hired a director of technology and society and based the position in Silicon Valley. Brittan Heller, a former Justice Department official, was tasked with forming partnerships with startups and others in the technology industry to address online hate as well as examining issues like diversity and prejudice and using technology for social justice. Heller will lead the new Silicon Valley command center, which is being funded with a six-figure grant from the Omidyar Network.
Growing anti-Semitism online, which targeted Jewish journalists during the campaign and has continued since the election, has been accompanied by a growing threat to Jewish institutions. There have been six waves of bomb threats targeting Jewish Community Centers and other Jewish institutions across the country since the beginning of the year. Jewish cemeteries have also been targeted, with headstones toppled in at least three different states. ADL offices have also been targeted.