Hand it to the Anti-Defamation League. There isn’t a single other organization out there that can declare something as fact, with no evidence, and have every major news organization repeat it verbatim, no questions asked.
The New York Times on Friday published the headline, “Hate Speech’s Rise on Twitter Is Unprecedented, Researchers Find.” That frightful claim was backed up, in large part, by none other than the leftist ADL, which is wildly successful in convincing anyone who will listen that Nazis are lurking in every American household.
“The shift in speech is just the tip of a set of changes on the service under Mr. Musk,” the article read, referring to Twitter’s new owner, Elon Musk. “Accounts that Twitter used to regularly remove — such as those that identify as part of the Islamic State, which were banned after the U.S. government classified ISIS as a terror group — have come roaring back. Accounts associated with QAnon, a vast far-right conspiracy theory, have paid for and received verified status on Twitter, giving them a sheen of legitimacy.”
Examples of “hate speech” that has supposedly seen an increase under Twitter’s new ownership include “slurs against Black Americans,” “slurs against gay men,” and “antisemitic posts referring to Jews or Judaism.” The Times attributed the findings to the ADL, the Center for Countering Digital Hate, “and other groups that study online platforms.” The report conceded that the alleged incidents of hate speech are “relatively small,” but nonetheless cited the claim by the “researchers” that “the increases were atypically high.”
There’s no public information on the Center for Countering Digital Hate’s website to correspond with what was asserted in the Times article and I don’t know what “other groups” the paper was referring to, so that leaves the ADL.
On the same day as the Times story, the ADL published a page on its website called, “Extremists, Far Right Figures Exploit Recent Changes to Twitter,” claiming that, “In the past few weeks, the ADL noted both an increase in antisemitic content on the platform and a decrease in the moderation of antisemitic posts, a troubling situation that will likely get worse…”
Wow, that sounds terrible! How does the ADL know all that?!
Why, because the ADL itself said so! The citations for those assertions came in the form of two hyperlinks, both of which direct to a pair of tweets from the ADL. One said that in the two weeks after Musk formally became the owner of Twitter, there was a 61.3 percent increase in the “volume” of tweets “with an antisemitic sentiment.” The actual number of such tweets came in at a grand total of 163 mean, anti-Jewish tweets. To put that into perspective, there are roughly 500 million tweets posted each day.
This would be like opening a brand new savings account, leaving it empty for four years, then depositing a penny. That’s a 100 percent increase in funds!
Hmm, one cent is relatively small.
Yeah, but, as the New York Times would say, the increase is “atypically high”!
The second tweet by the ADL claimed that under Musk, there has been a decline in the amount of action taken by Twitter against tweets that are “flagged” for hateful content. “In two weeks,” it said, “Twitter went from taking action on 60% of antisemitic tweets to taking action on only 30%.”
Setting aside that the whole point of Musk buying Twitter (supposedly) was to end the aggressive and unfair censorship that it had become infamous for, the ADL had only reported 60 tweets. About 40 of them were untouched.
This is supposed to alarm you but if you’re not about to have trouble sleeping at night because 40 potentially mean tweets are still floating around out there, I’m not going to be mad.
It would be easy to laugh in the faces of the ADL people, perhaps while breaking their glasses and dunking their heads in a toilet, but it’s not a joke. Putting out these junk studies has real consequences. Namely, it spooks ad buyers who might otherwise purchase space on Twitter, giving the company revenue, which it relies on to exist.
And Twitter, at least for now, is the most important part of our national political dialogue. It’s where all of Washington goes to get news, share their opinions, and develop their own views on every single major issue.
If Twitter goes down, the world will still turn. But that so many political forces suddenly want to end it, all because its new owner is more favorable to free speech, speaks to just how critical it is while it’s still around.