NEW YORK - The World Jewish Congress thanked Twitter on Monday for quickly responding to its demand to blacklist the hashtag #GasTheSynagogue, and asked the social media giant to make every effort to prevent such content from trending in the future.
WJC staff communicated with its counterparts in the Twitter policy team over the week to raise concern over the hashtag. The Twitter team, which works regularly with WJC on issues of this kind, responded within 24 hours that the hashtag had been blocked and that the company was doing everything possible to prevent it from trending.
The hashtag began spreading on Friday night after a synagogue in St. Louis opened its doors to provide sanctuary for protesters demonstrating against the acquittal of a white policeman for the killing of a black suspect, amid erupting violence over police efforts to control the protesters.
After St. Louis Metropolitan Police officers reportedly surrounded the Central Reform Congregation on Friday night and threatened to fire tear gas at the protesters inside, a trending Twitter hashtag called on the police to #GasTheSynagogue.
WJC research earlier this year found that more than 382,000 anti-Semitic posts were posted to social media platforms over the course of 2016 – an average of more than 43.6 posts per hour, or one post every 83 seconds.
The WJC survey, conducted by the Israeli monitoring firm Vigo Social Intelligence, determined that an overwhelming 63 percent of all anti-Semitic content online can be found on Twitter.
The WJC has actively engaged with social media platforms this year to draw attention to instances of anti-Semitism, and to try to find a mechanism to halt the phenomenon.