ADL to Build Silicon Valley Center to Monitor & Fight Cyberhate; Omidyar Network Provides Seed Funding

Center Will Combine Cutting-Edge Analysis, Education and New Strategies and Partnerships To Combat Online Harassment and Protect Civil Rights

Austin, Tex., March 12, 2017 … At SXSW, Anti-Defamation League (ADL) CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt announced Sunday that ADL has secured seed funding from Omidyar Network to build a state-of-the-art command center in Silicon Valley to combat the growing threat posed by hate online. The center will employ the best technology and seasoned experts to monitor, track, analyze and mitigate hate speech and harassment across the Internet, in support of the Jewish community and other minority groups. 

Greenblatt unveiled the plan Sunday at SXSW while discussing “The State of Hate” on stage with Texas Tribune Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith.

ADL’s center on cyberhate, technology, and society will pioneer new strategies in the fight against online abuse, drawing from ADL’s three decades of expertise monitoring, tracking, and combating hate on the public and private web. It will author reports and data; provide insights to government and policy makers; and expose and stop specific cases of online harassment and cyberbullying.

“Now more than ever as anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism, and other hatreds have exploded online, it’s critical that we are bringing best-in-class technology and resources to this fight. That’s why we will build this center in Silicon Valley, and why we are so grateful to Omidyar Network for providing seed funding for this effort,” Greenblatt said. “This is a natural extension of the cyber hate work ADL has been doing for decades and builds on the new presence we established last year in the Valley to collaborate even closer on the threat with the tech industry.”

Since 1985, ADL has been leader in fighting hate online with a dedicated team tracking online hate speech and hate groups, reporting publicly on trends and tools to fight online hate, sharing insights and data with law enforcement, assisting Jewish institutions with their security needs, coordinating with online stakeholders and helping more than 20,000 individuals face down threats. ADL also established best practices for addressing cyberhate that have been guiding the biggest Internet and media companies for years.

“Inclusivity is key to a healthy society and yet this is being challenged and attacked in countries around the world, including the United States. Cyberhate is a big, growing part of the problem and it needs a big response. ADL’s work against hate is unmatched and the launch of the center in Silicon Valley will enable them to further collaborate with the technology industry to tackle these problems.” said Stacy Donohue, Investment Partner, Omidyar Network.

The new center will leverage ADL’s long-standing relationships with law enforcement and expertise on security to build a deep capacity on protecting individuals and institutions in a digital environment.  The center will work with leading experts to develop new strategies to prevent cyberhate. ADL will share these findings and convert insights into recommendations for policymakers and the private sector.

The center will enhance ADL’s engagement with leading entrepreneurs and innovators in the world. ADL will work with tech sector leaders to evaluate artificial intelligence, big data, augmented/virtual reality, and other technologies as options to reduce online harassment. 

Brittan Heller will serve as the founding director of the new center and leads ADL’s cyberhate efforts. Her background spans law, technology, and human rights. She joined ADL in September 2016 from the U.S. Department of Justice where she focused on human rights and cyber issues. Greenblatt himself comes from the tech industry and has experience starting ventures, raising capital, developing products, and crafting partnerships in Silicon Valley. 

Over the next several months, Heller, Greenblatt, and the ADL team will engage with a wide range of stakeholders in Silicon Valley and beyond as they work to stand up this new center.

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