viral hate » ADL Blogs
Posts Tagged ‘viral hate’
March 4, 2014

Abuse Of Yik Yak App Underscores Need For Personal Accountability

Update: March 10, 2014 – Threats found on Yik Yak resulted in back-to-back evacuations of a high school in Marblehead, Massachusetts, as well as the lockdown of a Decatur, Alabama, Middle School and a San Clemente, California High School, according to the Los Angeles Times. Some of the schools that have been subject to threats on Yik Yak have reportedly blocked students from accessing the app directly through campus Internet networks. At least four Chicago-area high schools warned parents about Yik Yak in the past two weeks, according to the Chicago Tribune, and principals have asked parents to delete the app from their children’s devices.

The abuse of a controversial new app that enables users to communicate with complete anonymity highlights the need for some user identification functions and personal accountability.yikyak

The app, Yik Yak, which promotes itself as being a place “to post anonymously or under an alias – you can become the talk of the town and never get discovered,”  has been reportedly abused by students in Roswell, Georgia; North Kansas City, Missouri; and Mobile, Alabama.

In Roswell, a letter was sent to parents of High School students saying that “this app is allowing students to verbally abuse each other, teachers and staff…”

In North Kansas City, one parent found a hateful post about her daughter as well as teachers and administrators.

And in Mobile, two students under the age of 16 were reportedly arrested for using the app to make terroristic threats. Apparently acting separately, each allegedly used Yik Yak to threatened shootings at local high schools. They were arrested on felony charges.

These incidents emphasize the consequences of a lack of any registration requirements, including age verification, or a cursory online identification.

In his latest book Viral Hate, ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman speaks to this issue, noting that “emboldened by anonymity,” individuals are “freely spewing hateful vitriol on the Internet without worrying about repercussions. Lies, bullying, conspiracy theories, bigoted and racist rants, and calls for violence targeting the most vulnerable circulate openly on the web.”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

February 4, 2014

Counter-speech Against a French Anti-Semite

Counter-speech is a vital tool to combat hate speech, and ADL’s counterpart in French-speaking Switzerland, CICAD, provided an excellent example of counter-speech last night against the anti-Semitic French comedian, Dieudonné.

CICAD stand near the Nyon theater, featuring Dieudonné quotes like, “For me, the Jews are a cult, a fraud.”

CICAD stand near the Nyon theater, featuring Dieudonné quotes like, “For me, the Jews are a cult, a fraud.”

Dieudonné, who has been convicted and fined multiple times for anti-Semitic speech in France, scheduled several performances in Nyon, Switzerland, a town just four miles over the border.

Last night’s performance coincided with the British government’s decision to declare Dieudonné persona non grata, forbidding him entry into the UK.  During the performance, Dieudonné referred to Queen Elizabeth II and made his often anti-Semitic quenelle gesture.

The Nyon municipality decided on January 13 not to ban Dieudonné’s performances, while “firmly condemning any racist and/or anti-Semitic statements.”  Following that decision, CICAD sought and received permission from the Nyon municipality to set up an information booth next to the theater to provide audience members with documentation of Dieudonné’s anti-Semitic hate speech, including Holocaust denial.

ADL champions counter-speech and education to address hate speech, and this approach is a central theme of Viral Hate: Containing Its Spread on the Internet, the most recent book by ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman and Christopher Wolf, ADL Civil Rights Chair.  CICAD reminds us that this strategy works well on the ground too.

CICAD will be presenting a French-language version of ADL’s Confronting Anti-Semitism: Myths and Facts at the Geneva International Book Fair, April 30-May 4, one of the most important in Europe with almost 100,000 visitors each year.


Tags: , , , , ,

June 4, 2013

ADL’s “Viral Hate” Now Available in Bookstores

Abe Foxman's & Christopher Wolf's book: "Viral Hate"

Two leading experts on bigoted speech and the Internet have joined forces as authors of a new book that lays out a blueprint for governments, industry leaders and societies to take proactive steps to stem the tide of hate speech on the Internet.

Abraham H. Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League and Christopher Wolf, ADL Civil Rights Chair, outline the challenges posed by online hate and propose a series of solutions in their new book, Viral Hate: Containing Its Spread on the Internet (Palgrave Macmillan), available in bookstores and for download on e-readers today.

Viral Hate discusses how in the past 20 years, the Internet, with all of its many advantages to society and the free-flow of information, has become one of the most powerful tools for bigots to spread evil messages of intolerance and rage.

While it is a marvelous medium for education, communication, entertainment and commerce, as the Internet has grown and changed over the years, racists and bigots have found new ways to exploit the technology to spread hateful messages and recruit others to join their cause. The book provides numerous examples of how this has happened.

Viral Hate offers specific recommendations for the industry, as well as for educators, parents and Internet users.

The industry recommendations include:

  • Creating clear policies on hate speech and including them within terms of service;
  • Creating mechanisms for enforcing hate speech policies;
  • Establishing a clear, user-friendly process for allowing users to report hate speech;
  • Increasing transparency about terms of service;
  • Actively encouraging counter-speech and education to address hate speech.

Recommendations for Internet users include: 

  • Flagging offensive content;
  • Speaking out and, in a smart and careful way, being prepared to challenge hateful messages with positive ones;
  • Promoting counter-speech, applauding positive messages and recommending them to others;
  • Talking about what you have seen, and reaching out to watchdog agencies with experience dealing with hate and bigotry;
  • For educators, working to ensure that schools have appropriate policies in place, and emphasizing the importance of critical thinking.

Mr. Foxman, a longtime leader in the fight against anti-Semitism and bigotry, and Mr. Wolf, an Internet privacy law attorney who has represented ADL in a number of international bodies tasked with fighting Internet hate, cite numerous instances in recent years where individuals like James von Brunn, the white supremacist and U.S. Holocaust Museum shooter, have taken advantage of the power of the Internet to spread hateful messages and to find likeminded bigots.

And they identify the various forms of hate speech that have proliferated online, including racism, anti-Semitism, religious bigotry, Holocaust denial, homophobia, misogyny, promotion of terrorism and harassment.

In Viral Hate, Foxman and Wolf discuss how ADL helped to convene a new working group on online hate that is bringing together Internet industry leaders and others to probe the roots of the problem and develop new solutions to address it head on.

The authors write it is “a national disgrace” that schools do not have as a requirement courses instructing children on the appropriate use of electronic communication.

More information on the book is available on the League’s web site at

Tags: , , , , , ,