FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 25, 2023
Jonny Levenfeld, West End Strategy Team
email@example.com; (202) 704-4535
Interfaith Alliance Releases New Report on How Big Tech Undermines Religious Freedom
New resource, “Big Tech, Hate, and Religious Freedom Online,” shines a light on practices by social media platforms that threaten freedom of belief
WASHINGTON—Religious freedom organization Interfaith Alliance released a new report today outlining how the freedom to believe as we choose is under siege by Big Tech business practices that incentivize the amplification of hate online.
The report draws attention to how debates around mismanagement at social media platforms often overlook the impact on religious freedom, which guarantees the right for people of all faiths and none to practice what they believe without fear of harm.
Drawing on analysis of why hate incidents are urgent threats to religious freedom, the report argues that, as social media becomes an inextricable part of our lives, these threats are no longer confined to the physical world. The report further shines a light on how digital hate disproportionately impacts members of minority faiths and other vulnerable communities.
“Combating hate and bigotry in all forms is central to our mission advancing an inclusive vision of religious freedom, and as this report makes clear, rooting out hate in digital spaces is integral to that work,” said Rev. Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, president and CEO of Interfaith Alliance. “Whatever you believe and wherever you come from, you have a right to be your authentic self on- and offline. Until our leaders take action to reign in hate speech online, America’s promise of true religious freedom will remain unfulfilled.”
Interfaith Alliance has worked for years to educate the public about the uniquely damaging impact of hate crimes and advocates for legal and legislative efforts as key tools to keep our communities safe. In 2021, the organization released a toolkit, Partnering Against Hate, designed to equip grassroots communities to combat hate and advance inclusivity at the local level.
Ahead of the report launch today, Interfaith Alliance hosted a cross-cutting conversation on Big Tech and religious freedom featuring leading experts on disinformation and democracy, including: Paul M. Barrett, Deputy Director of the Center for Business and Human Rights at NYU’s Stern School of Business, Zaki Barzinji, Program Director for Aspen Digital, and Lauren Krapf, Counsel for Technology Policy & Advocacy at the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
You can find a full recording of the panel discussion at this link, and key excerpts below:
Lauren Krapf, Counsel for Technology Policy & Advocacy at the Anti-Defamation League (ADL):
“The online world is essentially a faster and more connected extension of our physical world. And I think that that is a really important point to revisit again and again. The actions that happen online do have consequences, both online and offline.”
Zaki Barzinji, Program Director for Aspen Digital:
“At a macro level, the overarching issue is that we are experiencing a period of explosive innovation and advancement. The problem is that those responsible for building that future are a tiny select few. And so the innovation that we’re seeing really only fully serves a tiny select few, with the most marginalized populations getting even more marginalized with every new advancement. In other words, unless things change drastically, the future that’s being decided today will not serve all communities because it is not being built by or with all communities.”
Paul M. Barrett, Deputy Director of the Center for Business and Human Rights at NYU’s Stern School of Business:
“I fear that among the first corporate functions to suffer in this environment will be content moderation operations and general policymaking. And those are the best hope actually for the form of self-regulation that we need in this industry. So to stop antisemitism on Twitter, you need people within Twitter who are paying attention to antisemitism. But one of the first things that Elon Musk did upon taking over was more or less fire all of the people paying attention to these issues–not just antisemitism–but making decisions about what materials should be on the site and what materials shouldn’t be on the site.”
If you are interested in speaking further with Interfaith Alliance, please contact Jonny Levenfeld at 202-704-4535 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interfaith Alliance is a network of people of diverse faiths and beliefs from across the country working together to build a resilient democracy and fulfill America’s promise of religious freedom and civil rights not just for some, but for all. We mobilize powerful coalitions to challenge Christian nationalism and religious extremism, while fostering a better understanding of the healthy boundaries between religion and government. We advocate at all levels of government for an equitable and just America where the freedoms of belief and religious practice are protected, and where all persons are treated with dignity and have the opportunity to thrive. For more information visit interfaithalliance.org.