CHICAGO — Local officials, community and religious leaders joined representatives Friday from the Simon Wiesenthal Center to share the findings from its annual digital terror report.
It found hate crimes of all kinds are reportedly on the rise.
While the report focuses on digital platforms and hate perpetuated on them, local officials are also taking a stand and saying hate has no place in Cook County.
“We’re committed to fighting against injustice both online through education, targeted investment, prosecution and legislation,” Cook County Commissioner Scott Britton said.
Researchers said they’ve seen an increase in online anti-Semitic, racist, LGBTQ+ hate and violence against Black, Latino, immigrant and Jewish people.
“This is not about speech,” Rabbi Abraham Cooper with the center said. “It’s about the marketing of hatred.”
The center found hate being spread on social media and networking sites, as well as platforms for gaming, sharing videos and even the Amazon marketplace.
“They have now begun to monetize hate,” Cooper said.
Telegram ranked as the platform with the most hate found on it, including posts encouraging lone-actor attacks.
But the Simon Wiesenthal Center said apps like Twitter and TikTok were also a huge concern.
“Educating our kids about what they’re likely to see on the internet is extremely important,” Cooper said.
Last year, Cook County United Against Hate was launched and pledged to fight discrimination while also standing up against all forms of hate.
“Every single step that we take matters,” Cook County Board of Commissioners President Toni Preckwinkle said.
Commissioner Scott Britton said he received a packet of anti-Semitic literature in his own driveway just last year. He said it’s a reminder this rhetoric still exists even locally.
It was his actions and the efforts in Cook County to stand up against hate that caught the attention of international human rights activists.
“I would bet if the reaction to the low-tech hate would be similar to how Chicago responded, we would see that kind of behavior begin to slip away,” Cooper said.