This article was originally published in The Science Times on March 21st, 2023, written by David Thompson.
With online antisemitism impacting Jewish people every day, businessman turned venture philanthropist, Adam Milstein, is a supporter of CyberWell, the web-intelligence and database nonprofit platform, which aims to curb the rising antisemitism on social media.
Countering antisemitism is central to Adam Milstein’s philanthropic efforts, and the launch of a cutting-edge technological system that could minimize online Jew hatred marks significant progress when it comes to shaping a vast cyberspace.
“The AI [artificial intelligence] of CyberWell is helping monitor social media antisemitism in real time,” Milstein posted on Facebook. “Will social media giants take real action to curb the problem?”
This is far from Milstein’s first foray into fighting hate – online and off.
He’s a philanthropist and community leader whose work, through the Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation, aims to strengthen American values, support the U.S. – Israel alliance and combat bigotry and hate in all forms. Adam Milstein is also a managing partner of the private commercial real estate investment firm Hager Pacific Properties and a Board Member and Chairman Emeritus of the Israeli-American Council, the IAC. Additionally, he sits on the boards of several organizations, such as StandWithUs, Hasbara Fellowships, Prager U, etc.
What Is CyberWell?
“CyberWell is actually the first open and live database of antisemitic content,” founder Tal-Or Cohen Montemayor told The Jerusalem Post, “and provides a wealth of information so that people can see the state of online antisemitism for their own eyes, both by interacting with the content and by using our visualization tools.”
Since May 2022, the database has used cutting-edge technology and open-source intelligence to scan social media platforms for antisemitic content; note which social media policies each piece of antisemitic content violates; and categorize each piece of content under one of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s 11 examples of antisemitism.
The name “CyberWell” reflects the concept of using open-source intelligence and improving the “wellness” of cyberspace. Meanwhile, the database’s slogan – “More data, less hate” – embodies CyberWell’s aim: to reduce antisemitism on social media and improve enforcement on these networks.
Reporting and acting on online antisemitism is essential, and CyberWell makes this possible at scale. Cohen Montemayor noted that some of the most hateful antisemitic content appears simultaneously in the “dark corners of the internet” and on mainstream social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok, where hundreds of millions of people are active every day.
Now, with CyberWell, social media networks have the opportunity and tools they need to clamp down on antisemitic content.
What Technology Does CyberWell Use?
CyberWell’s technology combines big data management, open-source intelligence, machine learning analysis, data collection, and dictionary development.
These technologies and disciplines enable CyberWell to monitor, identify, and vet antisemitism in multiple languages, uploading offensive posts to a live database that the public can access, search, and filter. The aim is to help social networks enforce community standards and take action when users post antisemitic content.
While many people downplay the severity of online antisemitism, the technology behind CyberWell uncovers how serious this content really is. Between May 2022 and January 2023, CyberWell analyzed more than 6,000 pieces of antisemitic content on social media – and its technology flagged over 110,000 pieces more.
But the problem extends beyond users posting and sharing antisemitic content. Social media networks rely on users to report content violations and, as a result, only take action against 20% to 25% of antisemitic posts. In fact, social media platforms leave antisemitic content online around 80% of the time.
What Does CyberWell Consider Antisemitism?
CyberWell uses the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism to categorize hateful content posted on social media. The IHRA definition of antisemitism encompasses several types of this hostility, prejudice, and discrimination, such as Holocaust denial, justifying the killing of Jewish people in the name of radical ideology, and denying Jewish people the right to self-determination in the State of Israel.
The United States and 37 other national governments (not to mention local governments, law enforcement agencies, international bodies like the United Nations, European Union, civil society organizations, and universities worldwide) have adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism.
What Platforms Does CyberWell Cover?
CyberWell tracks antisemitic text, hashtags, videos, and images on the five major social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok. The organization plans to expand into gaming and chat platforms like Telegram and Discord in the future.
What Work Has CyberWell Done?
Although some Jewish organizations have produced reports on antisemitism, they typically issue these once or twice a year and don’t share data. CyberWell builds on these reports by offering continuously updated data that anyone can access.
“Everybody should have access to this data because it’s the fastest growing form of online antisemitism,” Cohen Montemayor said. “The only way we will get a united response to the issue is if everyone has access to the data.”
CyberWell has also created tailored alerts that highlight spikes in antisemitism on each social media platform. These spikes tend to occur when individuals who have the power to influence others post antisemitic content.
This consistent monitoring and updating of information put pressure on social media networks to hold individuals accountable for posting and sharing antisemitic content, which is especially important in a world where global celebrities, who have a wide reach, post hate content and misinformation on social media.
For example, when Kanye West (now known as Ye) posted antisemitic comments on social media in November 2022, CyberWell’s monitoring technology reported an increase of 24,000% in content that used West’s name, and there was a 50% increase in messages saying that Jewish people control the economy and media.
CyberWell also uses its data to produce reports such as “CyberWell Alter: Online Antisemitism Spikes in Response to Ye” and “Data Insights: The State of Antisemitism on Twitter.”
Can You Use CyberWell?
Anyone can access CyberWell’s cloud-based database to analyze the antisemitic content it collates. Plus, while CyberWell uses pioneering technology to flag antisemitic content, viewers can use the site as a reporting platform to flag content they find.
Here are two ways to support CyberWell’s efforts: First, you may choose to donate to CyberWell and take a stand against antisemitism. The organization has a 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor to ensure donations are tax-deductible. And secondly, partner with CyberWell to help the organization encourage social media platforms to act against antisemitic content.