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June 9, 2016 0

LA Times Editorial Board Criticizes EU Hate Speech Code of Conduct for Online Platforms

In response to a Code of Con­duct adopted at the request of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion by online com­pa­nies Face­book, Twit­ter, YouTube and Microsoft, the Los Ange­les Times Edi­to­r­ial Board called the Code “a well-meaning but heavy-handed move against jihadist pro­pa­ganda.”  The Edi­to­r­ial explained:

The code of con­duct was pre­sented as a set of vol­un­tary com­mit­ments closely track­ing what the four com­pa­nies say they’ve been doing on their own ini­tia­tives. But it’s not as if they could have blithely refused to coop­er­ate. Under Euro­pean law, cer­tain types of hate speech are ille­gal and must be removed on request. The com­mis­sion also is a highly active reg­u­la­tor  — much more so than U.S. author­i­ties are — hav­ing launched antitrust, tax and pri­vacy enforce­ment actions against some or all of the four com­pa­nies. In other words, they would have ignored the com­mis­sion at their peril.

The LA Times Edi­to­r­ial Board item­ized its con­cerns this way:

  • “The Commission’s move could lead the com­pa­nies to cen­sor legal speech as well. Rather than leav­ing com­pa­nies to set their own terms of use, the code of con­duct man­dates that such rules “pro­hibit the pro­mo­tion of incite­ment to vio­lence and hate­ful con­duct,” which is a vaguer and broader cat­e­gory than what Euro­pean gov­ern­ments have outlawed.”
  • “It would fast-track the removal of con­tent flagged by advo­cacy groups and other non-governmental orga­ni­za­tions blessed by Euro­pean offi­cials, leav­ing those whose posts are blocked online with no due-process rights (the com­pa­nies say they have inter­nal appeals processes, but that’s a far cry from the court-supervised process under U.S. copy­right law).”
  • “The code could set a prece­dent for other coun­tries to force Inter­net com­pa­nies to restrain speech more than their laws dic­tate or global prin­ci­ples of human rights sup­port. For exam­ple, what if a repres­sive regime demands that social net­works adopt rules ban­ning “incite­ment to insta­bil­ity” or other code words for dissent?”
  • “But just as the United States has strug­gled to find the right bal­ance between secu­rity and civil lib­er­ties, so too must the com­mis­sion be care­ful not to squelch legal speech. The new code of con­duct may be well-meaning, but it would have been bet­ter to have a truly vol­un­tary effort by social net­works backed by real due-process protections.”

While Jonathan A. Green­blatt, ADL CEO has stated that the Code par­al­lels ADL’s Best Prac­tices for Respond­ing to Cyber­hate, and that empow­er­ing users to bet­ter report hate speech is the rea­son why ADL has brought it Cyber-Safety Action Guide to Europe, ADL acknowl­edges the con­cerns expressed by civil soci­ety and the Los Ange­les Times, and con­tin­ues to believe that vol­un­tary efforts to com­bat online hate speech is prefer­able to government-imposed require­ments.  ADL has com­mit­ted to work with the Euro­pean Jew­ish Con­gress and Euro­pean Union of Jew­ish Stu­dents to expand ADL’s Cyber-Safety Action Guide for use by Euro­pean cit­i­zens in the wake of the EU Code announcement.

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May 20, 2016 0

ADL Alerts Service Providers to Hezbollah Presence on Their Platforms

Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah, speaking on al-Manar television

Has­san Nas­ral­lah, the Sec­re­tary Gen­eral of Hezbol­lah, speak­ing on al-Manar television

UPDATE: 5/20/16 — Face­book & Insta­gram have removed the accounts iden­ti­fied in this blog.

Al-Manar, the media wing of Hezbol­lah, has long broad­cast ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda dis­guised as news to the Arab speak­ing world. After being dropped by two of the largest satel­lite providers in the Ara­bic speak­ing world, Arab­Sat (which dropped the chan­nel in Decem­ber 2015) and Nile­Sat (which dropped the chan­nel in April 2016), Hezbol­lah is rely­ing increas­ingly on online plat­forms to main­tain its viewer base. As a result, removal of al-Manar pres­ence from online plat­forms at this time has the poten­tial to sig­nif­i­cantly dis­rupt the group’s reach and impact.

Al-Manar, des­ig­nated by the U.S. State Depart­ment as a Spe­cially Des­ig­nated Global Ter­ror­ist Entity, cur­rently has offi­cial pres­ence on a num­ber of U.S.-based social media and web plat­forms, most of which are linked from al-Manar’s offi­cial web­site. ADL has alerted the com­pa­nies to the group’s presence.

ADL reg­u­larly alerts Inter­net com­pa­nies to ter­ror­ist exploita­tion of their ser­vices, and most com­pa­nies quickly remove the con­tent when alerted. We have informed the rel­e­vant com­pa­nies of these exam­ples of Hezbol­lah use of their plat­forms and antic­i­pate that they will remove the con­tent once again.

Twit­ter

Al-Manar has an offi­cial Twit­ter han­dle, @almanarnews, which can be accessed via direct link from the al-Manar web­site. The account appears to have been cre­ated in July 2010, and has upwards of 334,000 fol­low­ers. Accord­ing to the page descrip­tion, “Al-Manar web­site News and pro­grams. Al-Manar TV is con­sid­ered the tele­vi­sion of the Lebanese resis­tance against the Israeli occu­pa­tion.” The descrip­tion also includes a link to live stream­ing of al-Manar broad­casts on the al-Manar website.

Most of the Tweets on the al-Manar Twit­ter feed include state­ments pro­mot­ing vio­lence against the U.S., Israel, and other enti­ties Hezbol­lah con­sid­ers to be its ene­mies. It also fea­tures state­ments and speeches of Has­san Nas­ral­lah, the head of Hezbollah.

Spe­cific exam­ples of Tweets include one Tweet from May 18, 2016 that stated,“The Amer­i­can pres­ence is an occu­pa­tion that must be fought against,” one Tweet from Octo­ber 8, 2015 with an image show­ing a stabbed Israeli civil­ian and a mis­lead­ing cap­tion that reads: “an Israeli sol­dier stabbed in occu­pied Jerusalem;” and a link to an arti­cle that praises stab­bing attacks against Israelis. Another Tweet from Jan­u­ary 28, 2016 states, “The mis­siles of the Resis­tance (Hezbol­lah) dis­turb Washington…[because] Israel’s safety comes first [for the U.S.].

 

An al-Manar Tweet showing a stabbed Israeli civilian. The caption reads, "an Israeli soldier stabbed in occupied Jerusalem"

An al-Manar Tweet show­ing a stabbed Israeli civil­ian. The cap­tion reads, “an Israeli sol­dier stabbed in occu­pied Jerusalem”

Face­book

Al-Manar has an offi­cial Face­book page titled al-Manar Chan­nel – the Offi­cial Page (in Ara­bic). The page can be accessed via direct link from the al-Manar web­site and has over 4,000 fol­low­ers. The page dis­plays al-Manar’s offi­cial log and posts news about Hezbol­lah and links to live stream­ing of al-Manar television.

As on the Twit­ter feed, most of the posts on the al-Manar Face­book page include state­ments pro­mot­ing vio­lence against the U.S., Israel, and other enti­ties Hezbol­lah con­sid­ers to be its ene­mies, as well as Islamic extrem­ist views and state­ments and speeches by Has­san Nasrallah.

Spe­cific exam­ples of posts include a car­toon posted on May 18, 2016 depict­ing an Amer­i­can sol­dier sup­port­ing ISIS and a post encour­ag­ing stab­bing ter­ror­ist attacks in Israel with an image of a knife cov­ered with the Pales­tin­ian flag with the Ara­bic text stat­ing, “stab it in the heart of your enemy.”

A cartoon posted on al-Manar's Facebook page depicting a U.S. soldier supporting ISIS.

A car­toon posted on al-Manar’s Face­book page depict­ing a U.S. sol­dier sup­port­ing ISIS.

One of the posts, also dated May 18, 2016, includes an admis­sion of the group’s vio­la­tion of Facebook’s terms of ser­vice. It reads, “To our hon­or­able and beloved page vis­i­tors, no mat­ter how many pages they shut down. We will always be the voice of resis­tance which doesn’t know defeat or sub­mis­sion.  We invite you, oh you who love resis­tance, resis­tance fight­ers, and the leader of the resis­tance to stand right in the face of false­hood to call upon rel­a­tives and friends to actively par­tic­i­pate in this page, which thanks to God and thanks to your efforts you will con­tinue and win.”

Insta­gram 

Al-Manar has an offi­cial Insta­gram page called alma­narnews. The page has 873 fol­low­ers and can be accessed via direct link from the al-Manar web­site. The page’s Arabic-language descrip­tion states, “Al-Manar web­site News and pro­grams,  al-Manar TV is con­sid­ered the tele­vi­sion of the Lebanese resis­tance against the  Israeli occu­pa­tion.” The descrip­tion also pro­vides a link for users to “watch the TV chan­nel broadcast.”

The Insta­gram page dis­plays the offi­cial logo of al-Manar and links to live stream­ing of the ter­ror­ist entity’s TV broadcast.

YouTube

Al-Manar has an offi­cial YouTube page called Al Manar Chan­nel 3. The page has 9,669 fol­low­ers and can be accessed via direct link from the al-Manar web­site. The page descrip­tion calls it, “The offi­cial page of the Lebanese Media Group al-Manar channel-Lebanon.”

The YouTube page dis­plays the offi­cial logo of al-Manar and links to media mate­ri­als pro­duced by al-Manar. The chan­nel also has a live stream of the al-Manar TV sta­tion and includes posts and videos fea­tur­ing Hezbollah’s mil­i­tary operations.

What­sApp

Al-Manar has an offi­cial What­sApp ser­vice called Al-Manar chan­nel What­sApp ser­vice, which can be accessed via direct link from the al-Manar web­site. The al-Manar What­sApp ser­vice page also links to other al-Manar social media accounts, includ­ing Face­book, Twit­ter and YouTube. The ser­vice pro­vides sub­scrip­tion options for groups of five or more peo­ple, or for individuals.

The al-Manar WhatsApp service

The al-Manar What­sApp service

ADL pre­vi­ously exposed Hezbol­lah use of What­sApp in 2014, includ­ing attempts by the group to inter­est World­Cup sup­port­ers in its ser­vices via WhatsApp.

Telegram

Al-Manar has an offi­cial Telegram chan­nel called alma­narnews, which has 17,538 fol­low­ers and is acces­si­ble via direct link from the al-Manar web­site. The chan­nel descrip­tion states that it is “The offi­cial account of al-Manar chan­nel on Telegram” and pro­vides a link for users to “watch the TV chan­nel broad­cast” on the al-Manar website.

The chan­nel dis­plays the offi­cial logo of al-Manar and links to posts and videos from the satel­lite station.

Posts on the chan­nel include exten­sive news about ter­ror attacks in Israel, includ­ing posts that read, “Occu­pied Pales­tine: The mar­tyr­dom of the one who exe­cuted the stab­bing oper­a­tion in Jerusalem,” and “The enemy’s media: an Israeli attacked in a stab­bing oper­a­tion in Israel.”

On May 20, AlMa­nar also launched two addi­tional Telegram chan­nels, called Alma­narnews­bot and Almanarnews_bot, pre­sum­ably as backup chan­nels in case their orig­i­nal chan­nel is removed from the plat­form. They have already begun to post news from the Alma­narnews­bot chan­nel, but the Almanarnews_bot chan­nel is inac­tive as of this posting.

Apps for mobile devices

In the past two weeks, ADL has dis­cov­ered and alerted plat­forms to the devel­op­ment of new apps that enable al-Manar stream­ing for mobile phones. These included an app on iTunes, which iTunes has since removed, and an app on Google Play. Al-manar sub­se­quently posted a state­ment on Twit­ter rec­om­mend­ing that its Apple users use Telegram to get news and alerts, rather than iTunes. There is rea­son to assume that Hezbol­lah will con­tinue attempt­ing to cre­ate new apps, as it has done mul­ti­ple times in the past.

Al-Manar's Tweet advising Apple users to switch to Telegram to receive news.

Al-Manar’s Tweet advis­ing Apple users to switch to Telegram to receive news.

ADL has con­sis­tently doc­u­mented Hezbollah’s cre­ation of apps for mobile devices and alerted plat­forms to their exis­tence each time. Infor­ma­tion on each of these instances is avail­able at the fol­low­ing links:

Hezbol­lah on Your IPhone: There’s an App for That (2012)

Hezbol­lah Re-Launches Apps; Blames ADL For Fail­ure Of Pre­vi­ous Effort (2012)

Hezbol­lah Mil­i­tary Branch Offers Free Pod­casts On iTunes (2013)

Hezbol­lah Is Still Try­ing To Broad­cast Mes­sages To Your Hand­held (2014)

Hezbol­lah Android App Re-Launched For The Third Time (2014)

ADL also reg­u­larly mon­i­tors online pres­ence and pro­pa­ganda by other ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions, includ­ing Hamas, ISIS and al Qaeda.

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February 9, 2016 71

White Supremacist Messages Flood Facebook After Anti-Semitic Posting by Ted Nugent

Rock musi­cian and right-wing activist Ted Nugent sur­prised many of his fol­low­ers on Feb­ru­ary 8 when he posted to his Face­book page a bla­tantly anti-Semitic graphic that labeled a dozen promi­nent sup­port­ers of gun con­trol mea­sures as Jews and asked “So who is really behind gun control?”

Angelo John Gage

Angelo John Gage

The graphic was one that had cir­cu­lated in white suprema­cist cir­cles for sev­eral years before Nugent gave it new life, telling his fol­low­ers to “Know these punks. They hate free­dom, they hate good over evil…you know how evil they are.”

To their credit, a num­ber of Nugent fans expressed dis­may at his post­ing. One prophetic Nugent fol­lower, a self-described 40-year fan, described the post as “appalling” and informed the aging rocker that he had just “opened the gates for hun­dreds of Jew haters and Holo­caust deniers to pour out their garbage on your page.”

Sadly, that was exactly what hap­pened. Pre­dictably, white suprema­cists and anti-Semites flooded to Nugent’s Face­book page to endorse his post and share it with their own Face­book friends (in less than 24 hours, the post had been shared over 2,800 times). Hun­dreds of white suprema­cists rushed to exploit and amplify Nugent’s post with their own pro­pa­ganda, includ­ing a num­ber of promi­nent white suprema­cists, such as for­mer Klans­man David Duke, neo-Nazi David Pringle, Tra­di­tion­al­ist Youth Net­work founder Matt Heim­bach and for­mer National Youth Front leader Angelo John Gage.

Gage, a white suprema­cist activist, blog­ger and occa­sional polit­i­cal can­di­date, helped start the rush when he quickly posted a YouTube video about Nugent’s post­ing, say­ing “it shows all these Jews, all of them,” and urg­ing like-minded peo­ple to go to Face­book and “start blast­ing” anti-Semitic pro­pa­ganda. Gage was not alone. Scott Roberts, another anti-Semite, posted his own YouTube video about the inci­dent, explain­ing that “we seized this oppor­tu­nity, Angelo, myself, David Duke…we are inject­ing that anti-Semitic truth, and tak­ing the point [Nugent] ini­tially came out with and ham­mer­ing it home.”

On the white suprema­cist dis­cus­sion forum Storm­front, neo-Nazis and other white suprema­cists made sim­i­lar pleas. “Any­one that is pro-white or ‘alt-right’,” posted user “Raven­Claw, “needs to jump on this and com­ment. Post David Duke videos on there.” Another Storm­fron­ter, “Pol­ish­SlavAryan,” asked, “Can we all work together as a team to make it go viral? The main­stream needs to know.” An Ore­gon Storm­fron­ter explained that “even at this early point the expo­sure is priceless…Some will look into the ‘jew­ish prob­lem’ a bit fur­ther. Win.”

Hun­dreds of anti-Semites indeed flocked to Nugent’s Face­book page to share their opin­ions of Jews. “Jews are the exis­ten­tial enemy to the white race and need to be exter­mi­nated off the face of [the] Earth,” wrote a Face­book user with the screen name “Max Macro.” User Dan Dean echoed those sen­ti­ments: “Zion­ists Jews are your dead­liest enemy. Vir­tual wolves in sheep’s cloth­ing. Deep dark­ness cloaked in a false light.” Oth­ers took the oppor­tu­nity to pro­mote anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­ries, Holo­caust denial, and anti-Semitic stereo­types, epi­thets and canards.

A Face­book user with the Holocaust-themed screen name “Zykklon Beaner” urged Nugent not to retract his state­ment: “No apolo­gies, Ted, stick by your guns, lit­er­ally and fig­u­ra­tively! F__k these sup­posed ‘cho­sen’ Zion­ist scum!”

So far, Nugent has nei­ther apol­o­gized for or deleted his post. To date, his only reac­tion was to make another post in which he raged against peo­ple who had called his orig­i­nal mes­sage anti-Semitic and asked how any­one “could pos­si­bly not know that Jews for gun con­trol are Nazis in dis­guise?” Mean­while, he wrote, “I adjust my yamika [sic] at my bar­mitzva [sic] play­ing my kosher guitar.”

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