UKLFI: Supporting Israel with legal skills

LinkedIn accused of failure to remove antisemitic content

LinkedIn has been accused of failing to remove high proportions of antisemitic content, even when it has been drawn to their attention.

UKLFI has written to LinkedIn, to request that it improve its policy regarding anti-Israel and antisemitic content, and its mechanisms for removing such content.

UKLFI was contacted by a LinkedIn user who had been rebuffed by LinkedIn in her attempts to remove antisemitic content. A report by Fighting Online Antisemitism (FOA) in September 2022 on anti-Israel hate content on LinkedIn also showed that LinkedIn was failing to remove the majority of antisemitic content.

FOA found and reviewed over 100 pieces of antisemitic content on LinkedIn between April 2022 and September 2022, and requested that they be removed. Of these, 32% were removed and 68% were not removed.  Some of the material that was removed was similar to the material not removed.

LinkedIn’s Professional Community Policies do not specifically mention antisemitism but state “We don’t allow bullying or harassment. This includes targeted personal attacks, intimidation, shaming, disparagement, and abusive language directed at other members.”

The LinkedIn user who approached UKLFI had evidence that blatant antisemitic comments and posts were not removed by LinkedIn, despite them falling under the category of abusive or harassing content.

LinkedIn removed two images of “Jews as pigs”.  However, a third image of a face, overlayed by an image of a pig with the message “Jews/Zionists are pigs say the Qur’an” was not removed.  The image was reported to LinkedIn by the user, but she was told that this did not violate LinkedIn’s policies.

Anti-Israel content not removed

The FOA report also references various anti-Israel content on LinkedIn. It points out that professional leaders, with academic degrees, apparently use their professional and academic credibility to promote anti-Israel content. For example, terrorists are called “martyrs” and Israel is falsely accused of committing massacres against Palestinians.

These kinds of posts would also appear to constitute disparagement and abusive language aimed at Jews and Israelis, and in some cases personal attacks and intimidation, in breach of LinkedIn’s community standards.

UKLFI was informed that a LinkedIn user had found many antisemitic comments on the LinkedIn website which compared Jews and Zionists to Nazis and called Israel a Nazi state. According to the IHRA definition, this kind of rhetoric may amount to antisemitism.[1]

Not only were these comments not taken down, but when the user tried to counter them with some historical information about the pro-Nazi historical figure, Haj Amin Al-Husseini, her own comments were removed, and she was “Restricted” and her Linked In account temporarily closed down.

The user told UKLFI: “My experience has been one of bullying and harassment because I write about and report antisemitism on LinkedIn.”

UKLFI wrote to LinkedIn referencing the FOA report and the treatment of the user.

Caroline Turner, director of UKLFI commented: “LinkedIn is a professional organization for networking aimed at professionals. It therefore has more credibility than other social media outlets. While LinkedIn claims not to tolerate all forms of hate speech, it appears not to apply that standard to antisemitism.”

A spokesperson for LinkedIn commented:

“While we cannot comment on another member’s account for privacy reasons, anti-Semitism and other forms of hate speech do not belong on LinkedIn or in our communities. We’re committed to setting a high standard for safe conversations on our platform, and we’ll take action on any content or behaviour that goes against our Professional Community Policies. This is deeply important and we’ll continue to invest in the features and tools that keep our platform safe.”

LinkedIn also shared its Transparency Report, for the six months to December 2022, and earlier periods, which sets out the actions it has taken in removing harmful posts.