Telegram Is Becoming a Cesspool of Anti-Semitic Content

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In the past In just a few months, Telegram has skyrocketed in popularity, Reaching 550 million monthly active users in July 2021, which makes it the fifth most used messaging app in the world. and as a wave of government-mandated internet shutdown The app has been praised for its role in dhoti, resistance to censorship and helping protesters around the world from Belarus To organize Myanmar. But there’s a darker side to Telegram’s liberal ethos, says anti-racism group Hope Not Hate: The app is one of the worst anti-Semitism pits you can find on the Internet. And the problem is getting worse day by day.

A new report from Hope Not Hate, which focuses on the spread of anti-Semitism online and is due to be published in full today, has found that Telegram has been able to provide a “safe haven” for anti-Semitic and extremists among major Internet platforms. is leading. Booted from other social networks. This notably includes the believers and peddlers of QAnon, the anti-Semitic anti-victim conspiracy theory linked to the January 6, 2021, storming of the US Capitol.


The report suggests that many channels devoted to anti-Semitic conspiracies, or outright violent anti-Semitic content, have increased dramatically in 2021 – largely unaffected by Telegram’s moderation. One of these, Dismantling the Cable, which smuggles in the New World Order conspiracy theory, launched in February 2021, has garnered over 90,000 followers to date; Another, run by an anti-Semitic QAnon advocate called GhostEzra, has followed 333,000. Hope Not Hate also found that at least 120 Telegram groups and channels shared a racist, anti-Semitic manifesto written by the terrorist who attacked two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand in March 2019, killing 51 people . Telegram has not taken any action against him. Subject. Telegram’s press office did not respond to a request for comment.

“If you compare [inaction] How Telegram has tackled Islamic extremism and terrorism is a night-to-day difference,” says Patrick Hermanson, a researcher at Hope Not Hate. In 2019, the app introduced . removed more than 43,000 bots and channels linked to Islamic State terror group As part of the Europol operation. Hermanson claims that some of the anti-Semitic content shared on Telegram advocates terror and should be acted upon accordingly.

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Hope Not Hate found that conspiracy theories in general have been on the rise online since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and its attendant lockdowns and social distancing measures. The period of uncertainty and isolation gives rise to all kinds of anti-establishment and anti-oligarchic narratives, and the early stages of the pandemic were characterized by intrigue on issues ranging from 5G to Bill Gates’ alleged role in the pandemic. But as Professor Kasim Kassam of the University of Warwick recently detailed Study, most conspiracy theories ultimately gravitate toward blaming a small group of people, regardless of what hypothetical plot they may present; Almost always, that group is coded as Jewish. The fact that the online anti-Semitic resurgence has resurfaced in a post-Covid world full of conspiracy theories is, therefore, seriously surprising.

QAnon’s case highlights this perfectly. This conspiracy theory says that the world is ruled by an oligarch of satanic and child sexual abuse politicians, financiers and Hollywood actors who spend their days sucking on the blood of children to stay young – on the old anti-Semitic blood libel a clear crack. While its core prominently portrays former US President Donald Trump as a white knight, and according to a study, One in five people in the US is a QAnon believer– Over time the QAnon conspiracy theory has broadened its focus to include Covid-19 truthfulness, anti-lockdown activists and other far-right tropes, a move that has earned it followers in several European countries, including Germany tops the list.

Following the crackdown on QAnon groups and accounts on all major social platforms—partly as a result of the January 6 uprising—Several QAnonists repaired Telegram, quickly creating a vast network of interconnected channels. Hope Not Hate points out that, since his move to Telegram—and piggybacking on the disenchantment of the pro-Trump crowd in the wake of Joe Biden’s inauguration—some QAnon believers and influencers have embraced a more bald-faced type of anti-Semitism, Finding rapport with the far-flung community already on the app.

One of the most prominent examples of this lull is found Hope Not Hate, a channel run by GhostEzra, a QAnon influencer that has, over time, become a center for anti-Semitic content, often in various forms. Blames Jews or “Zionists” for COVID – related conspiracies including “world domination”. GhostEzra—whom more investigation by research organization Logically A Florida man named Robert Smart has seen his following balloon to over 330,000 since it was first posted on Telegram on January 8, 2021.

According to Hermanson, the factors that made Telegram the ideal platform for anti-Semitism range from the anonymity it offers to its users. It allows easy cross-posting of a vast array of media content: videos, images, text files, and voice notes are all supported on Telegram, and individual text can be shared from one chat group to another like a social media post. can go. First and foremost, however, he believes Telegram is attractive to anti-Semitism because of its “general lack of restraint”.

On Telegram, he says, it’s easy to find copies of explicitly anti-Semitic films or texts with violent imagery for the murder of Jewish people, or including the anti-Semitic, fabricated tract “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” . Memes such as “The Happy Merchant,” a stereotypical presentation of a smiling, hook-nosed Jewish man, have been removed from most Internet platforms. “If you flag it on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, they will quickly remove it,” Hermanson says. “Because its anti-Semitism is so obvious.”

Instead, he says, Telegram has been unresponsive to flagging Hope Not Hate’s extremist anti-Semitic channels and accounts. Hermanson says the organization has hit the stage with a list of the worst channels advocating terrorism. “And they are still there. Those that have disappeared have disappeared on their own,” he says. “Not because of Telegram.”

He says this is dangerous, as the influence of these channels can very easily spread to the offline world. The British fascist group Patriotic Alternative has established a significant presence on Telegram, while the international neo-Nazi organization Atomwaffen Division, which is linked to at least 11 murders around the world, also managed to expand its reach thanks to the platform. has achieved. “It’s not just a drunken ideology we’re talking about,” Hermanson says. “This is genuine terrorist propaganda.”

This story originally appeared on Wired UK.

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