Press Release

ADL Task Force Issues Recommendations to Stem Hate That Surged on Social Media During 2016 Presidential Campaign

Includes 25 Actionable Items for Industry, Policymakers, Legal Community, Journalists, and the Public

Follows report detailing surge in online hate targeting journalists during presidential campaign


New York, NY, November 17, 2016 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Task Force on Harassment and Journalism today issued a broad set of recommendations to reverse a surge in harassment on social media and other online channels. The recommendations follow ADL’s four-month investigation into the harassment of journalists on Twitter, which concluded with an Oct. 19 report detailing a troubling, year-long rise in anti-Semitic hate against reporters from all sides of the political spectrum during the presidential campaign.

The Task Force recommends 25 separate actions that industry, policymakers and the government, the legal community, journalists, and the public can take to combat online hate. These include technical changes to make reporting hate speech and abuse easier for victims and witnesses; more concerted collaboration between social media and online platforms to stop the harassment; a government study to determine the full scope of cyberhate affecting society; and new laws to cover cyber threats and make illegal new types of online abuse – which include practices that extend threats into the physical world.

“We all have a collective obligation to confront online hate, and we must do so urgently. It’s normalizing anti-Semitism, hate and prejudice, and fracturing our society in a way that is unsustainable,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL’s CEO and National Director. “We must do everything we can to ensure that the Internet remains a medium of free and open communication for all people. We look forward to working with the social media platforms, policymakers, and others to implement these recommendations as quickly as possible.”

Half of the recommendations are for industry. It’s noteworthy that this week Twitter announced changes to its platform, reporting and enforcement that are consistent with what the Task Force is recommending.

Danielle Citron, Professor of Law at the University of Maryland and member of the Task Force added, “The ADL Task Force lays out important suggestions for platforms that harmonize with their commitment to free expression. It wisely offers strategies for enhancing the transparency and fairness of the reporting process, expanding opportunities for bystanders to assist victims, and building anti-harassment tools into platforms.”

ADL has been tracking, exposing, and responding to hate on the Internet since 1985. It works with all the major social media platforms and law enforcement, among others.

For years, ADL has convened a working group on cyberhate that includes tech companies, academics, and other leaders. With Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Yahoo, and YouTube, ADL created best practices to counter online hate that have been guiding the industry since 2014.

 “This important ADL report highlights the need for a collective, collaborative response to online harassment and offers very useful, practical recommendations,” said Christopher Wolf, an attorney and chair of ADL’s Internet Task Force. “It also underscores that only by working together can the industry, users, lawmakers, law enforcement officials, and other stakeholders address the growing challenge effectively.”

The members of the Task Force are Citron; Steve Coll, Dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism; Todd Gitlin, Professor and Chair, Ph.D. Program, Columbia Journalism School; Brad Hamm, Dean of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University; Shawn Henry, retired Executive Assistant Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Bethany Mandel, New York Post; Jay Michaelson, columnist at The Daily Beast and Contributing Editor at The Forward; Leon Wieseltier, Contributing Editor at The Atlantic and Isaiah Berlin Senior Fellow in Culture and Policy at The Brookings Institution; and Wolf, one of the leading practitioners of internet law in the United States.