The Fight against online hate

The Australian Jewish News (Sydney Edition) reports on the completion of the first stage of CIE’s new project to combat online hate. The first stage, funded by B’nei B’rith Australia and New Zealand, involved the design of a solution for emprically monitoring online hate, particularly in social media. The solution was presented at an experts meeting of the Online Antisemitism Working Group of the Global Forum to Combat Antisemitism which took place in Israeli Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem in early July 2011. Following this meeting it was presented at B’nei B’rith events in Sydney and Melbourne. A report containing detailed information on the project was also created.

Source: Chantal Abitbol, The Fight against online hate, Australian Jewish News, 22 July 2011

Plans for Australian-designed software, which seeks to identify and disect online antisemitism, have been unveiled.

The system called Fight Against Hate is the brainchild of social media expert Andre Oboler, and forms one component of the Community Internet Engagement (CIE) project launched in Melbourne in January.

According to Oboler, its aim is to produce empirical data about the colume of online hate, focusing specifically on social-media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube.

Its features include allowing the public to report content to a third party, separating data from questionable content, and producing trend reports on processed data. Over the past few weeks, Oboler has criss-crossed the globe to present the first-stage design of the softwarer — first at the Global Forum to Combat Antisemitism in Israel and last weekend at B’nei B’rith events in Sydney and Melbourne.

“The response has been very positive,” Oboler told The AJN this week.

“The consensus is that this is something new and very much needed. And from the experts dealing with online hate, the view is that this is a tool that would allow them to do [much] deeper analysis, which they can’t really do at the moment. So far all we have is samples, not empirical data.

“The aim is to try and clean up social media,” Oboler said. “If we do that, we can start changing social values so that hate is again seen as not acceptable in society.”

Now all that is needed is the fundign to build it.

Oboler is trying to raise $230,000 to get it off the ground, with another $200,000 a year to cover operating costs. This is in addition to the CIE core operating budget.

“As soon as we have the funding we can start,” he said.

“What we hope is that the major donors in the Australian Jewish community are willing to step forward collectively so this solution can remain a primarily Australian initiative, covering not only antisemitism, but online hate in general. As a multicultural and innovative society, we believe it fitting that Australia is seen to take the lead in this arena.”

CIE NOTE: The CIE project has actually been operating since September 2009, not January (as indicated in this article), and its core funding is generously provided by the Pratt Foundation. The B’nei B’rith contribution provided additional capital to employ the additional staff needed for Fight Against Hate project.

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CIE to Deconstruct the web of hate – if funding can be found

Adam Kamien, Deconstructing a web of hate, Australian Jewish News, 7 January, 2011. Pg 4.

A NEW website aimed at mobilising world Jewry, governments and community organisations against the proliferation of online anti-Semitism will be launched on January 24.

The Community Internet Engagement (CIE) site is the brainchild of social media expert Andre Oboler, who has consulted with governments and community organisations around the world.

According to Oboler, theCIE will be a hub for research, education, technology support and advocacy.

He said social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as YouTube and others, are easily manipulated by anti-Israel and anti-Semitic campaigners and need to be properly held to account.

“The idea is to build some software whereby artificial intelligence, as well as more wide-spread engagement, would allow us to track pretty much all online anti-Semitism,” Oboler said.

The CIE got off the ground in 2008 thanks to funding from The Pratt Foundation, and has since been coopted by the Zionist Federation of Australia.

Oboler is currently rattling the tin for the CIE and told The AJN his is hoping to raise $2 million, a significant portion of which will be used to create unique software. He would not be drawn on the nature of the program though, citing “trade secret issues”.

“The Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Weisenthal Centre have given up on doing empirical measuring of online anti-Semitism. They Reckon the Internet’s too big, too complicated,” Oboler said.

The co-editor of Australian Jewish online discussion forum Galus Australis, Rachel Sacks-Davis, also believes combating online anti-Semitism is a near insurmountable pursuit.

“I commend any efforts to encourage Jewish community organisations to engage in the online environment as this will help these organisations to communicate more effectively with the Jewish community. However, it is unlikely that it will be an effective way to combat online anti-Semitism,” she said.

“Until anti-Semitism is completely eradicated from the world, it will not be eradicated from the internet. The best strategy for the Jewish community is to create online spaces for Jewish expression, which provide opportunities for people – both Jewish and non-Jewish – to have positive interactions with Jews and Jewish culture.”

But Oboler is adamant inroads can be made. He believes the creation of an online equivalent of the Community Security Group could significantly reverse worrying trends towards anti-Israel and anti-Semitic campaigning on the internet.

“The result would be we would have a handle on what was happening and we would be able to start reversing some of the public opinion losses that we’re suffering,” Oboler said.

To donate to the Community Internet Engagement project contact Andre Oboler through his website www.oboler.com

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