Tuesday, June 8, 2010

My Thoughts on the New HP Comment Policy

I received an email that the Huffington Post is changing it's comment policy today. I will copy and past the whole thing below the cut after this post, but I wanted to get some of my thoughts down before you can read it. Here are the passages of note (bolds are mine):

"As such, we do not allow hate speech, nor do we allow speech that advocates or supports hatred or unlawful violence. We do not allow racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, or other intolerance. Likewise, threats of violence or threats to anyone or any group’s personal safety are not acceptable. We also do not allow false claims or misleading implications that any individual or group perpetuates hate or unlawful violence....
"We also do not allow the promotion and propagation of conspiracy theories, including those about 9/11."
 This is significant because anti-Semitism has not been singled out in previous Huffington Post terms of service. I also think it's interesting that they do not allow promotion of conspiracy theories. Although this would certainly apply to the kind of comments that we cover, I can't help but feel like it cuts too close to holding a certain political view. In other words, where is the difference between saying that AIPAC holds too much power in the US government and saying that AIPAC rules the US government? I for one don't know for sure.

What this new comment policy does show is something that Matt and I have believed for a while: That among the Huffington Post staff at least there is a commitment to toning down the anti-Semitism that has run rampant on their site for years. The fact that they are now singling out anti-Semitism is a step in the right direction.

That being said, we will need to see if they can follow through their words with actions. As I have said, I feel that the HP's heart is in the right place. What I am unsure about is their ability to monitor and act to the point where it makes any kind of significant difference. On the recent Gaza flotilla threads there are thousands of comments, and they have a whole website to monitor. As much as the HP moderators are making progress, I can't imagine that we'll see a difference "on the ground." If we do, I'll be pleasantly surprised.

But to the Huffington Post staff, I can only say this: If you really want to end anti-Semitism on your website, you need to make some major internal changes, and not just in moderation. There is a reason why people holding anti-Semitic comments are drawn to your site. It is because the Huffington Post has a clear anti-Israel slant and plays host to journalists with extreme anti-Israel and anti-Semitic views. In other words, when you have MJ Rosenberg promoting the conspiracy theory of Jewish-run media, Michael Carmichael accusing Lieberman of being a double agent, Ahmed Moor calling for Israel's destruction, Jerome Slater denying Israel's right to self-defense, Kevin Coval and Uri Avnery comparing Israel with the Nazis, Cenk Uygar accusing Israel of murder without evidence, and Max Blumenthal demonizing Israel supporters, you can't really be surprised when people on the talkback threads say the exact same thing.

As long as the Huffington Post plays host to such extreme voices as Ali Abunimah (who founded Electronic Intifada), it's editors hold some of the responsibility for the anti-Semitism that inevitably appears. Because right now the Huffington Post is a welcoming environment for those who want Israel destroyed and it's supporters marginalized. Here at the Brothers of Judea we see it every day. And as the anti-Zionists love to tell us, if you want a problem gone you need to look at the cause. I suggest the HP staff start looking.

1 comment:

  1. We're not expecting the HP to be pro-Israel. But we should expect them to be even handed in the coverage and enforce the rule about not allowing hate speech on their site that is clearly anti-Semitic. That is not too much to ask for from them. We'll have to wait and see whether they will enforce their new comment policy.