ADL webinar addresses election, extremes – Cleveland Jewish News

Posted By on November 13, 2020

Leading up to the presidential election and afterward, staff at the Anti-Defamation League have tracked hate and worked to prevent the spread of disinformation, misinformation and extremism across the country.

On Nov. 5, the ADL gave a 55-minute webinar, At the Extremes: The Election 2020 and American Extremism, to present information about the presence of hate on the internet and in person.

We remain concerned about the potential for extremists to exploit this moment of discord, to spread disinformation about vote tallies or the validity of the election, or even to inspire their followers to act violently, said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the ADL, adding the ADLs role is to act as a watchdog, working with law enforcement.

Leading up to the election, Oren Segal, vice president of the ADLs Center on Extremism, said, the center bolstered its coverage and monitoring capacity.

At the same time, We have been very careful about avoiding amplifying extremist voices and messaging, he said. We know that elevating those messages can exacerbate anxiety and fear.

He said there were scattered reports of poll observers being assaulted in Indiana and Alabama, a few cases of armed men showing up at polling places, and robocalls reaching 10 million people essentially telling them to stay safe and stay at home.

Segal said high voter turnout suggesting that the effect of Election Day of intimidation efforts was limited.

This is not a time to let our guard down, he said. Extremists are amplifying post-election accusations from various circles, including the current president and campaign, that Democrats are trying to steal the election by finding votes. This language is inherently inciting. The power of an idea or conspiracy suggesting that something is being taken away has always had the power to animate extremists from across the ideological spectrum.

Efforts in Michigan and Arizona to control the counting of ballots, he said, were not extremist, he said, but extremists will often show up at rallies because they never miss an opportunity to leverage a crisis.

Segal said in Philadelphia of a Proud Boys sighting on Nov. 5 and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has urged followers to take out polling places.

On cue, QAnon believers have echoed fears that Democrats are perpetrating a massive voter fraud, he said, referring to the far-right conspiracy theory.

On Nov. 4, three synagogues in Philadelphia received harassing telephone calls, where the caller said, Jews decide the election, Segal said, and a postal worker was doxed with accusations of back-dating ballots.

Dave Siffry, vice president of the ADLs Center for Technology and Society, spoke tracking hate on social media platforms and holding those companies to their own policies in order to protect the election.

Facebook, he said, temporarily shut down its recommendations for social and political groups in advance of the election after the Wall Street Journal identified that 64% of people joined extremist groups on the basis of those recommendations.

Facebook also ran a notification at the top of its news feeds and on individual posts to let people know there was no winner while results were being counted.

Were watching them very carefully and calling them out, Siffry said. In addition, a big concern has been about advertising.

He said Facebook sent a cease and desist letter to researchers at New York University who were investigating ad targeting on Facebook prior to the election.

It has become harder to trust even their own transparency on this issue, so we are tracking them very closely, he said.

YouTube had the least formal policies in place to specifically protect the election compared to Twitter and Facebook, he said, relying on its deceptive practices policy.

In the aftermath of the election, however, numerous journalists have flagged the prevalence of videos with false information, such as fake election results or false claims of victory on the platform from various sources, Siffry said. Some with upwards of 100,000 views.

He said on Election Day, YouTube channels, some with more than a million subscribers, live streamed fake election results to tens of thousands of people.

He said ADL found three broadcasts with fake elections results that had advertisements playing before them. In addition, he said YouTubes labeling said things like Results may not be final, see the latest on Google. rather than Twitter and Facebooks more proactive and definitive linking to election results and statements about inaccurate and misleading information.

He said the ADL has been pushing YouTube to strengthen its labeling and to block videos that contain misinformation or disinformation.

As to Twitter, he said, ADL observed hashtags such as #stopthesteal, #sharpiegate, each having been used more than 20,000 times since polls opened Nov. 3.

While Twitter took appropriate action on prominent accounts, Siffry said the ADL found 152 tweets from which no action had been taken from 84 high visibility accounts with a combined total of 118.8 million followers. Staff counted 1.9 million engagements when it first observed them.

We flagged them for Twitter last night, and upon rechecking this morning, 67 of those 152 tweets had been labeled as misinformation or annotated with election security information, he said. But the 85 tweets to which Twitter did not respond received an additional 350,000 engagements since reporting as of midday today.

ADL has also begun monitoring Twitch, the largest streaming platform for video games, which is now being used for political purposes, Siffry said.

Eileen Hershenov, senior vice president of policy, said in the months leading up to the election ADL for the first time collaborated with Moonshot CVE and Bridging Divides Initiative to track and redirect those searching for extremist information to websites that counter those messages.

In the last week, we have reported, Moonshot, our partners reported, over 2,200 searches in 45 states for anti-government, armed group, targeted violence, political violence, and conspiracy theories and information, she said, adding the top search words in the last week for conspiracy theories and violent threats were FEMA coffins, anarchist cookbook, join the 3 percenters.

The top 10 states, she said, are Arizona, Texas, Nevada, Idaho, Washington, Wisconsin, Arkansas, California, Oregon and West Virginia.

She said the ADL briefed law enforcement and elected officials in states where there were indicia of violence and disruption, including governors in seven states and attorneys general in eight, secretaries of state in five, mayors in 10.

Those were very targeted briefings about particular things we were seeing, she said, adding that ADL has held webinars for more than 1,000 law enforcement participants and one with nearly 100 executives in executive agencies in priority states.

ADL also reached out to all 56 FBI field service offices and 78 state and local intelligence fusion centers, which are points of connection for FBI, Department of Homeland Security and local and state law enforcement.

On voting rights, we leaned in working in coalition, she said, adding that ADL worked to register more than 300,000 people in Philadelphia in concert with the Urban League. We were messaging calm.

ADL advocated in Congress for appropriations for safe voting in states and sent a letter to Congress noting the QAnon supporters running for Congress asking they not be given leadership positions.

We intend to take that same message to the states, she said.

Greenblatt spoke of the larger picture,

The reality is most of the work that ADL does is behind the scenes, he said. So we are actively working with law enforcement, with the media and news organizations the social media services to give them actionable intelligence on the threats as we see it, to correct misinformation, particularly when its directed in such a way that it marginalizes Jews or African Americans or other minorities or marginalized communities.

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ADL webinar addresses election, extremes - Cleveland Jewish News

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