Everyday Antisemitism

Facebook says that Antisemitic rape threats against Jewish schoolgirl don’t violate its Community Standards

Facebook has refused to remove sexually violent antisemitic posts that were directed towards an Australian schoolgirl named Ariella, despite comments such as, “I”ll make         u proud I’ll f**k her [Ariella] in the gas chambers”.

The Australian stated that fearing more abuse, Ariella, 16, who is from Melbourne, has decided not to reveal her surname to the public.

Ariella originally joined the Facebook group, “16+Hangouts”, in order to chat with more than a dozen other Australian teenagers from various Melbourne and Sydney. schools.

However, when a male member realised that she and other members were Jewish, he began posting blatantly antisemitic commentary, writing  “all aboard Jew express next stop Auschwitz gassing chambers, I hear there is a lovely shower aboard, Exterminate, Exterminate” and “I’ll make u proud I’ll f*** her in the gas chambers”.

When Ariella told the boy to stop the abuse, it apparently worsened.

Ariella is descended from Holocaust survivors.

The Australian teen officially left the “16+ Hangouts” a mere 24 hours after she had joined the Facebook group. During that brief episode, Ariella compiled almost 50 A4 pages of screenshots that contained antisemitic rhetoric. Ariella, who took it upon herself to file the complaint with this documentation, believes that these posts demonstrate “a clear breach” of Facebook’s community standards.

Facebook, however, was not swayed by the evidence. Expressing disappointment, Ariella shared the following pro forma Facebook reply:

“Thank you for your report–you did the right thing by letting us know about this.                 We looked over the profile you reported, and though it doesn’t go against one of                 our specific community standards, we understand that the profile may still be                     offensive to you.”

Facebook’s response is deeply concerning, since, it clearly violates Facebook community standards policy:

“Facebook removes hate speech, which includes content that directly attacks                      people based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual                  orientation, sex, or gender.”

By failing to apply their community standards policy to Ariella’s situation, Facebook has essentially declared that Jews do not deserve protection, since their “religious affiliation” is, at least, in this case, not recognized by Facebook monitors. It is hard to imagine how calling for Jews to be sent to the “gassing chambers” does not constitute directly attacking someone based upon their ethnicity or religious affiliation.

It is important to note that Facebook has been the target of international condemnation for how they moderate their platform. In particular, a perceived tolerance of Islamic an far right extremist activity has attracted criticism. In addition to this, there have been several instances of Antisemitic incitement, covered by Everyday Antisemitism, which Facebook has failed to remove. Facebook also has an explicit policy of allowing Holocaust denial. It is, therefore extremely troubling that, in the eyes of Facebook, posting threatening language that promotes rape against a minor–no matter how outrageous the remark–is something that also deserves free speech protection. This is yet another example of Facebook failing Jews who use its platform peacefully, but also constitutes a failure to protect women and girls from harassment.

Dvir Abramovich, the Chairman of Australia’s B’nai B’rith Anti-defamation Commission (ADC), stated that when Ariella contacted his office with her complaint, he was “appalled by the level of racism evident in such young people”.

Abramovich also deplored the fact that Facebook was being used as an “engine of hatred”.

Facebook is currently investigating Ariella’s case, which was originally reported in May. There have been no further updates.