Nieuwscheckers: FVD politicians amplify anti-Semitism on Twitter
Politicians from Forum voor Democratie (FVD) regularly retweet anti-Semitic accounts. They therefore promote players from a social media network in which anti-Semitism is commonplace. This ranges from conspiracy theories about George Soros to hate speech about Jewish people drinking children’s blood. These are the results of an analysis by Nieuwscheckers and Textgain.
Even if FVD politicians do not retweet anti-Semitic posts, they still increase the reach and status of such accounts and their ideas. In this respect FVD clearly differs from six other parties that were studied.
These are the results of a qualitative study of retweets by FVD politicians and a quantitative analysis of 100,000 tweets, retweets and likes by dozens of politicians (at the local, provincial and national level) from seven Dutch political parties: FVD, BIJ1, D66, DENK, GL, PVV and SGP. The material in the study spans the year 2021 and the first months of 2022. In contrast to politicians from BIJ1, D66, DENK, GL, PVV and SGP, politicians from FVD routinely retweet accounts that spread anti-Semitic messages.
‘Hardcore’ and ‘diffuse’ anti-Semitism
Although it was the exception for FVD politicians to retweet anti-Semitic tweets to their followers, they did retweet anti-Semitic accounts. These retweets increase the virality of the accounts: they increase their reach and visibility.
The qualitative analysis made it possible to distinguish between ‘hardcore’ and ‘diffuse’ antisemitism in these accounts. The former is explicitly directed against Jewish people and is part of the core message of these accounts. The latter uses anti-Semitic stereotypes and motifs, but these are mixed in with other conspiracy theories such as QAnon and the Great Reset. In both instances, the basic message is the same: accusations of a Jewish quest for world domination.
More than ten per cent of the Twitter activity of the FVD politicians in the study consisted of liking and retweeting ‘diffuse anti-Semitism’ accounts. For PVV politicians this was two per cent and for the other parties zero per cent.
Online anti-Semitism: Utrecht Data School analysis
Alongside the Nieuwscheckers and Textgain report, an extensive study by Utrecht Data School (UDS) (in Dutch) of online antisemitism in 2020 has also been published.
An analysis of tweets confirms the finding that anti-Semitism is most prevalent in the sphere of the far-right and conspiracy theorists. The UDS study also confirms that FvD is the exception among Dutch political parties. For example, on YouTube the highest number of anti-Semitic comments were found under Forum for Democracy videos.
This research is a project by Leiden University’s Nieuwscheckers and Textgain. Textgain is a spinoff of the University of Antwerp that specialises in using Artificial Intelligence to analyse big data. Read the full study (pdf) (in Dutch).