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Facebook's European head Nicola Mendelsohn to discuss online hate crisis with communal leaders

The Board of Deputies, the Jewish Leadership Council, the Community Security Trust and the Antisemitism Policy Trust will have representatives art Friday’s meeting

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Facebook’s vice president Nicola Mendelsohn is to meet with communal leaders on Friday to discuss concerns that the social media giant has failed to do enough to tackle antisemitism and hate speech on its platforms.

The Board of Deputies, the Jewish Leadership Council, the Community Security Trust and the Antisemtism Policy Trust will all send representatives to the talks, which will discuss the implications of the government’s proposed Online Harms Bill.

The JC understands that Ms Mendelsohn will be attending the virtual meeting along with members of Facebook's policy team.

The talks with Facebook’s vice-president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa take place only weeks after Facebook and Twitter were singled out for criticism over their failure to act swiftly against the antisemitic online rants by the rapper Wiley.

Ms Mendelsohn, who is also a non-executive director of Diageo, has been labelled "the most powerful woman in the British tech industry.”

She was appointed by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg as the company’s most senior figure in Europe in 2013.  But Ms Mendelsohn has retained her close link to the community and is an active member of Finchley United Synagogue alongside her husband, the Labour peer Lord Mendelsohn.

Communal leaders are again expected to stress their concerns that the social media giants are failing to accept their “duty of care” to users of their platforms who wish to be protected from hate speech – and see effective measures to tackle those who go online to spread hatred.

Last month Facebook’s Vice President of Global Affairs and Communications Nick Clegg wrote to Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis to say that he “fully” understood why, in a letter sent to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, the Chief Rabbi had said he had suspended his activity on their platforms.

Mr Clegg then set out the steps he said his company took in situations such the one involving the Grime star Wiley, who had used Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to post a stream of antisemitic messages including claims Jews were snakes who treated black artists like slaves in the music industry.

An investigation by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), a UK-based counter-extremist organisation, also found that Facebook’s algorithm “actively promotes” Holocaust denial content by recommending pages and links to organisations and individuals who are renowned for sharing these views.

The study showed that by typing “Holocaust” into the Facebook search, users were taken to pages dedicated to Holocaust denier David Irving and other groups that have questioned the Shoah.

In an interview with the JC last November, Ms Mendelsohn  said she was “proud” the company employs 35,000 content moderators, and that 99.9 per cent of terrorism-related posts are picked up before they are made public.

Facebook has previously worked with Hope not Hate, the Community Security Trust and the Board of Deputies to make sure Jews know how to report antisemitic posts or threats.

Digital and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden had outlined the government’s proposed Online Harms Bill in July which he said would make this government “the first in the world” to introduce laws that make social media safe and tolerant rather than “a safe space for antisemitism”.

He has pledged to “impose tough penalties” on those social media giants that fail to act against hate speech.

 

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