NEW REPORT: Meta gives unvetted antisemitic admins content moderation powers in pro-Palestine Facebook groups with 300,000 members

Posted on May 29, 2024 in Press releases.

  • New study by the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) uncovers significant flaws in Meta’s model for moderating Facebook groups, where unvetted admins are responsible for responding to user reports of racism 
  • Report finds that admins of ten pro-Palestine groups – each of whom have a history of posting antisemitic hate – ignored 76% of posts reported to them for containing antisemitism, while 91% of accounts reported for posting antisemitism were not removed 
  • Test accounts set up by researchers to report antisemitic posts appeared to be subject to coordinated bans – being excluded from eight out of ten groups studied in this report 
  • When antisemitic posts were reported directly to Facebook’s official content moderation teams, only 1% of posts were acted upon 
  • Imran Ahmed, CEO of CCDH, accused Facebook of “outsourcing content moderation to extremists,” allowing antisemitic actors to “camouflage their hate in the themes and language of the pro-Palestinian movement” 

WASHINGTON, D.C., 05/29/24 – A new report finds that Meta allows unvetted, antisemitic users to serve as admins in popular pro-Palestine Facebook groups, giving them responsibility for content moderation in those spaces.  

Tests run by researchers found a large majority (76%) of reports of anti-Jewish hate speech were ignored by these admins.  

For the study, CCDH researchers identified 10 admins from 10 different pro-Palestine Facebook Groups, which have more than 300,000 members combined. 

The Groups and admins were selected for the study from a wider longlist of 42 groups and 95 admins – specifically because those admins have a history of repeatedly posting antisemitic content. Each of the ten Facebook groups studied had seen at least five pieces of antisemitic content posted since October 7. 

Researchers reported a sample of 42 separate antisemitic posts to admins to test the rate at which they were acted upon. They found: 

  • 76% of content promoting anti-Jewish hate had not been removed or hidden 
  • 91% of accounts posting anti-Jewish hate had not been removed 

CCDH also found evidence that Group admins took coordinated action to impose blanket bans on researchers’ test accounts used for reporting antisemitism, blocking access to eight of the ten groups. 

A separate experiment, in which a sample of 100 antisemitic posts were reported directly to Facebook’s official content moderation teams, found that the platform failed to take any action in 99% of cases. 

Imran Ahmed, CEO and founder of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, said: 

“Facebook groups are a powerful way to connect people with similar beliefs, interests and ideologies. However, there is nothing to stop groups from being taken over or even set up by all-powerful admins with far more sinister interests – for example, to spread the lies that underpin hate against Jewish people. 

“Facebook’s failure to take action against hate when reported directly to them is evidence that its system for moderating Groups is nothing more than a cowardly attempt to pass the buck. By outsourcing enforcement of Facebook’s rules to extremists, it has allowed antisemites to radicalize and recruit. 

“Volunteer admins have the power to shape the culture of groups by setting the standards and even banning members who speak out – as they did to our test accounts for reporting clear instances of hate speech. 

“Facebook groups can be incredibly potent engines of hate, allowing extremists to silence tolerance and preach hate to unprecedented audiences numbering in the hundreds of thousands.”