What do you do when you see someone spewing hate on the internet, or a You Tube video that is all about hate? Do you turn the other cheek and move to another page, or do you report them and where do you report them? The world these days is filled with terror and hate and with the internet, it seems it is easier to spread those messages than ever before, so what can be done about them? This is where Jonathan Vick, who fights cyberhate on a daily basis, knows exactly what to do with those messages of hate and terror and we were pleased to be able to speak to such a real person who is a real inspiration.
Jonathan Vick is an Assistant Director for Cyberhate Response at the Cyber Safety Center in the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) Center on Extremism in New York. Growing up in Long Island, his upbringing was eclectic and he didn’t experience much anti-semitism in his community. Jonathan didn’t think much of his Jewish upbringing until he met his wife, whose father was not only a Holocaust survivor, but also a Nazi hunter for the ADL. Although Jonathan’s entire career had been focused on the Internet since its inception in the mid 90’s, he never had a plan to be a cyberhate fighter with the ADL, until a job that involved civil rights and internet monitoring became available and he applied and got offered the position. That was 12 years ago.
Now, Jonathan Vick, has become an expert in tracking, exposing, and responding to hate on the Internet, as well as closely monitoring hate sites and the activities and beliefs promoted by extremists and terrorists. He has helped prepared an extensive toolkit for addressing cyberhate and he has brought together experts, academics, NGOs, and Internet industry leaders to evaluate current practices and to develop new strategies for responding to cyberhate on their sites.
There are several ways that cyberhate is fought on the internet, but the first thing to remember is that cyberhate threats are non-denominational and non-spretrum related. Cyberhate can include: anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim bigotry, racism, homophobia, misogyny, xenophobia and other forms of online hate. It doesn’t matter if the online hate is directed toward a social community, national organization or national security, if it is hate speech, then it is considered cyberhate and should be reported, and the ADL has made it very easy to report, with a complaint mechanism form that is so detailed and easy to use, it even lets you drill down to the specific site you saw the cyberhate on.
After a complaint has come into the ADL on cyberhate, it is investigated for accuracy and then brought to the attention of the site owner. The site owner could be Amazon, Twitter or Tumbler. The ADL doesn’t ask the site owner to remove the material, but they are asked to research the material to see if they feel it is appropriate to what they are trying to portray. Because the ADL does not ask these companies to remove material, but rather to make these decisions on their own, they have developed very strong relationships and channels of communications on what is appropriate and what hate speech is and what needs to be done with these large internet giants. So, when an issue is brought to them, the companies usually respond quickly.
The cyberhate team also has several sites that they monitor daily and they often are bouncing material out to law enforcement and arrests have been made in the past. The difference between what they can do and what police can do is that they can give the police the cause that is needed to make the arrest before a terrorist threat can be carried out. The goal is to interrupt patterns of deceit and narrative.
The ADL cyberhate team is also the largest trainer for law enforcement agencies when it comes to hate speech and crimes. They train them on bias crimes, activities of extremist groups, hate crimes and all about online activities.
The bottom line….
Say something. If you see something, say something. You can’t gauge the magnitude of a problem if you don’t know if a problem exists. That’s the starting point. It’s all about empowerment. These companies need to know what’s on their sites, and then they have a right to determine what they have on their sites, but they also have to be actionable for it. So, it all starts with reporting it, even if you aren’t sure, report it.
J-Vibe wants to thank Jonathan Vick for taking time out of his very busy schedule for speaking with us about this very important issue. We are a no place for hate site, and we believe in the power of real people, real inspiration and real Houston. We believe that we can change minds and hearts and we believe that by having this knowledge it is power.