An undercover investigation by Jewish News this week sheds light on the anti-Semitic “lynch mob” active online, and details the extraordinary ease with which pro-Palestinian activists can descend into a world of hate.
Our reporter, who created fake anti-Israel internet profiles to gain access to secret groups, reveals how anti-Semites connect with one another and feed off group members’ anger, in a self-reinforcing “spiral of extremism”.
Crucially, our investigation also outlines how the technology and algorithms underpinning social media tilt and “taint” search results towards the perceived political persuasion of the user, showing how hate builds on hate.
Moreover, it reveals how savvy bloggers manipulate this technology, with a “correlation between the level of venom and the likes/shares they receive”.
Describing this murky and “truly frightening” cyber Twilight Zone, ‘Mr X’ reveals the anti-Semites’ source of “news” on Israel, the legal loopholes they exploit and the use of ‘memes’ – images edited to affect emotion or ridicule.
Brace yourselves for a cold, hard look at those no longer able or willing to hear cold, hard facts about the Jewish people and the democratic State of Israel – and the mind-warping processes that assist them.
It wasn’t long after I began to research the forces that align against Israel that I realised I needed to connect with those who stand on the other side. Not merely as a curious visitor into one of the public groups, but rather as a pro-Palestinian activist. I felt I would receive a more reliable picture of the arguments taking place, along with the added bonus that this would provide ‘invitations’ to upcoming events. Thus ‘Mr X’ was created.
What I know now is that Facebook is truly frightening. In some circles, normal news outlets, even ones that appear more hostile to Israel such as The Guardian or Independent, are almost never quoted. Rather, a stream of obscure sites bring fodder for these groups.
Over one single 12-hour period, the following are the sites that provided ‘Mr X’ with his ‘news’.
Be warned, some of these sites may not be ‘safe for work’.
Facebook groups outdo themselves in the originality of their names. There are those like Eliminate the Elite, Worldwide False Flags and Zionist Israel a Threat to Mankind.
The ‘threat to mankind’ group has 26,623 members. In the more rancid arena of ‘secret groups’, the gloves come off and almost anything goes.
The written introduction to these groups always includes a disclaimer and a statement proclaiming that all racist or anti-Semitic comments are unwelcome and will be deleted.
So nobody fools themselves into thinking this is a ‘minor fringe’. Facebook is happy to let you know how popular any specific term is at that moment: Highly-active Facebook pages such as Israel is a War Criminal have more than 250,000 likes. Browsing the ‘time stream’ regularly is a horrifying and deeply disturbing influence. It would have a profound effect on anyone.
There is no humour, no humanity. Very few of the people involved are posting anything about their personal lives at all. It is a cesspit of vile and extreme political activism.
The anger and hatred that comes from those responding to the posts is palpable. There is no restraining hand, no moderating factor, each poster trying to outdo the other in registering the level of their anger and the evilness of the entity they hate.
It resembles a lynch mob from the Middle Ages, its members winding each other up until the entire group is burning with an anger that is desperate for an outlet.
Another source of ‘the drive towards extremism’ are memes [see above picture montage]. These are just a few seen in one 12-hour period. Despite their frequency, I have deliberately refrained from choosing the very graphic images. It should be accepted that a vast amount (probably more than 25 percent of all images that are posted), are graphic images of dead children that are intended to provoke anger, disgust and a thirst for revenge.
For many years now, our internet experience has been influenced by our own behaviour. How much of what you see online is guided by your own preferences is rarely fully understood.
Rarely are these ‘tainted’ results more intensive than in the world of social media.
As the website builds a profile of what you like and what you do not, it begins to form a unique bubble around your online existence.
This is what Facebook has to say about its search results: “Your friends, interests and other connections affect the order of your results.” Which means when I search for ‘Israel’, I receive groups that are inherently pro-Israeli, but when ‘Mr X’ does, he sees a completely different list.
Part of this picture has been obscured to hide identity, but the results were not touched. The search request was simply for groups concerning ‘Israel’.
This may be a useful algorithm, one that refines search results so that we are not endlessly looking for something of interest, but the truly disturbing element of the search results is that they produce a list that is almost hermetically sealed in one direction.
They give the appearance that the other side doesn’t exist.
As a user, the message comes across that almost everyone agrees with you. It is a cruel trick played by the very instruments that were lauded as tools of enlightenment.
The second cruel trick is also algorithm-dependent. The more likes a piece receives, the higher up the page it will move. This means that more people become exposed to extreme articles than moderate ones.
This, in turn desensitises the reader and his community will begin to like and share even more extreme material.
Because of the way the algorithm works, this is exactly what they will then receive. It is a spiral towards extremism.
The authors of blogs and outlandish news sites are highly attuned to what works and what does not. It cannot be long before they notice a correlation between the level of venom they spit out and the likes and shares they receive.
They must have learned long ago that a moderate piece that tries to accommodate the other opinion simply does not get passed around at all.
How many of today’s commentators are editing their articles with this in mind?
The final element in the drive towards extremism and anti-Semitism occurs when ‘Mr X’ leaves the social-media bubble.
In his virtual world, he is contained within a unit where everyone thinks like him. He is given no alternative message and even if he searches for one the results are deliberately skewed to consolidate and entrench what he already believes. Outside this bubble, he is confronted by an entirely different scenario.
When he turns to mainstream media (MSM), he finds nobody is talking about the so-called ‘hot topic’ of the day.
He doesn’t think the Jews are the new Nazis, he knows it to be true. He is convinced Zionists are committing genocide and ethnic cleansing, he has doubts about major world events such as 9/11 and is suspicious that western forces hide behind ISIS.
Yet on TV, and in the printed press, it is all business as usual.
The question then arises; how can this be? If ‘everybody’ thinks like him, if ‘everyone’ is talking about Israel, how is this focus not reflected in the printed press or on the TV news?
Given that he knows Facebook is a free platform where everyone can speak his mind, he can begin to believe in a deliberate conspiracy.
Are there controlling elements in MSM that are hiding the truth of ‘evil Israel’ from the public? Surely it must be the Zionists themselves.
As this occurs, social media becomes the only forum to be trusted. Our user is cutting himself off entirely from the influence of normal society and becoming immersed into a tornado of extremist thought.
If one of his friends doesn’t understand and is still posting the propaganda of the enemy, it is likely by this stage he will disassociate from him.
It would be wrong to underestimate the effect this is having.
The darker Israel’s actions come to seem, the more intense the control must be to suppress the news. The conspiracy becomes Jewish control. Yet as some Jews such as Blumenthal, Pappe and Barkan are ‘good guys’, there is a new controlling disease in town – ‘Zionism’ and, in this way, anti-Zionism, become the new anti-Semitism.
Same disease, slightly different method of catching it.
In The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Kuhn describes a scientist’s desperate attempts to maintain the integrity of a paradigm by adding ever more outlandish new rules.
The absence of mainstream media reporting of ‘Israeli genocide’ is an ‘anomaly’ that needs to be addressed. ‘Zionist media control’ has to be true for the science to remain valid.
Thus anti-Semitic anti-Zionism becomes an integral part of the science of opposing Israel. Anti-Semitic anti-Zionism, therefore, becomes a required part of the global vision.
This issue is not restricted to Israel. Corbyn, Trump, Bernie Donald Sanders – these are all symptoms of a growing issue that is being fuelled relentlessly through social media.
Whole communities are being dragged into the extremities, closing off their ears to the middle ground.
Storm clouds are approaching and, not for the first time, it is Jews that are among the first to be targeted.