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Anti-Defamation League sees sharp rise in anti-Semitic tweets

Journalists are targeted by hate tweeters as the divisive 2016 presidential campaign stirs emotions.

The ADL says 2.6 million tweets used anti-Semitic speech between August 2015 and July 2016.
Jaap Arriens, NurPhoto via Getty Images

Anti-Semitism has taken new flight.

In a report Wednesday, the Anti-Defamation League said anti-Semitic hate that targeted journalists had mushroomed on Twitter with much of the activity fueled by the divisive presidential campaign.

A total of 2.6 million tweets used anti-Semitic speech between August 2015 and July 2016, the ADL said. Those tweets achieved an estimated 10 billion impressions, a measure of reach.

The ADL found that more than 19,000 of the tweets were directed at journalists, though the actual number could be higher. Roughly 800 journalists were sent anti-Semitic tweets with the top 10 targeted individuals receiving more than 80 percent of the tweets.

The journalists targeted worked for a range of publications, including The New York Times, the Atlantic, CNN and Tablet, a Jewish publication.

Twitter acknowledged the problem though it questioned the accuracy of the numbers.

"We have focused the past number of months specifically on this type of behavior and have policy and products aimed squarely at this to be shared in the coming weeks," an ADL representative said in an email. Twitter's rules of conduct specifically bar hateful behavior, including on the basis of religious affiliation.

The report said more than two-thirds of the anti-Semitic tweets were sent by 1,600 Twitter accounts. By comparison, the micro-blogging service has roughly 313 million accounts.

The ADL associated the accounts as likely to identify as supporters of Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, and members of the alt-right, a collection of a right-wing activists. The report didn't imply the Trump campaign supported or endorsed the anti-Semitic tweets.

The ADL maintains a database of online hate symbols. The database includes Pepe the Frog, a cartoon that has been appropriated by white supremacists and anti-Semites, and the echo symbol, a name inserted into triple parentheses to single out Jews on the internet.

First published on October 19 at 1:33 p.m. PT.
Update at 2:37 p.m. PT: to include comment from Twitter and background on ADL's online hate database.