Look to weeding your own backyard before complaining about others’.
That’s what I thought after reading Times of Israel New Media Editor Sarah Tuttle-Singer’s latest blog post for the publication, in which she urges Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to “[do] more to combat anti-Semitism” on the website. Tuttle-Singer, who heads up the social media portion of the TOI, certainly does nothing wrong by suggesting that the company’s chief executive address anti-Semitism on the site more strongly; hate speech directed at Jews is prevalent throughout FB, and not all reports to administrators result in bigoted comments being removed … an issue that may lie with all-too-cursory oversight when it comes to the corporation’s Community Standards and how it views any adherence to them.
But Tuttle-Singer might want to look inward and examine the anti-Semitism that runs rampant in areas much closer to her than the global Facebookosphere, and that includes the TOI’s own FB page, as well as its website. A brief examination of both turns up myriad examples of anti-Semitic hate speech that have gone unmitigated … as well as Islamophobic posts and comments. And despite the fact that Tuttle-Singer is responsible for moderating these pages, they seem to have gone willy-nilly into Bigotland.
What’s going on here? Shouldn’t the prevalence of hateful content on these pages be addressed first before a plea to Zuckerberg is made on anti-Semitism overall? It doesn’t seem like much, if anything, is being done to curb the prejudice being lobbed about on these pages, and although dialogue should be encouraged in a medium such as FB’s, attacks on other people’s religions, ethnicities, genders, orientations and abilities should not. They are hurtful. They are unproductive.
They have no place anywhere on Facebook … and that includes the TOI’s page and website (which utilizes FB for comments).
I’ve been writing about anti-Semitism on Facebook for about a couple of years for my TOI blog. I’ve addressed my encounters with bigots who propagate hate speech, as well as reporting such incidents. But I know that anything that can be done in a legal and appropriate fashion to counter such issues should be done, and Tuttle-Singer has that power. She can hide offensive comments on the TOI’s FB page and website. She can ban offenders from posting. Why she doesn’t more often is problematic, and it undermines her query to the Facebook founder. If he ought to do more to combat anti-Semtism on the site, she should as well. The fact that she has the right and authority to do so as moderator of the TOI’s pages makes it even more important that she attend to her duties further.
Will this happen in the near future? If Tuttle-Singer truly cares about anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry on Facebook, she will do the requisite due diligence. Right now, however, it appears that much more of an effort is needed to assuage such content in her own proverbial backyard, and it’s no small task. Is she up for it? Perhaps only time will tell. But if she doesn’t address it soon, those anti-Semitic weeds may go to seed, and they will become a lot harder to pull out.
For bigotry never dies; like a parasitic vine, it just needs hosts to thrive and prosper. I’m asking Tuttle-Singer to uproot that vine. Then and only then will her backyard truly be clean.
And her plea to Mark Zuckerberg will make a heckuva lot more sense after that.