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At Board of Deputies urging, Government writes to social media giants recommending adoption of international definition of antisemitism
13 July 2021
“We are determined to ensure that Jewish social media users are free to enjoy the online space without fear of being targeted by hate.”
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The Government has written to five of the UK’s largest social media companies and platforms to “strongly encourage” them to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of Antisemitism, with the Board of Deputies making it clear such action was required in light of the significant targeting of Jewish users.

Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), wrote to Facebook (which also owns Instagram), Twitter, Google (which owns YouTube), Snap and Tiktok, identifying the IHRA definition of Antisemitism as an “invaluable tool for organisations to understand how antisemitism manifests itself in the 21st century and to tackle it.”

Mr Dowden said that he was writing in the context of the Online Security Regulatory Framework, which accompanies the Government’s Online Safety Bill. He said the framework would “put significant measures in place to ensure platforms tackle illegal and legal but harmful content, including antisemitic abuse.”

Marie van der Zyl, President of the Board of Deputies, praised the Government’s action and called on the Secretary of State to follow this by asking Ofcom, as the planned regulator for social media, to use IHRA when assessing whether social media companies are fulfilling their duty of care to Jewish users.

“The Board of Deputies has been clear in all its meetings with social media companies that if they truly want to combat antisemitism on their platforms, they need to adopt the full IHRA definition of antisemitism as part of their community standards and use it when considering antisemitism complaints”, she said.

“At a meeting held last month with Mr Dowden to discuss the huge rise in online hate in response to the latest upsurge of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Board urged him to write to social media companies and ask them to adopt the full IHRA definition. We thank the Secretary of State for doing so and hope that in the coming period he will also write to Ofcom and ask them to use IHRA in their assessments of online antisemitism when they become the new regulator for social media.

“We are determined to ensure that Jewish social media users are free to enjoy the online space without fear of being targeted by hate.”

You can read the letter here