Technology is being used to spread anti-Semitism. It could also be part of the solution

In the age of social media, anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial are no longer hidden in the margins, caused by fringe hate groups. From Yi – formerly known as Kanye West – and a basketball player Kyrie Irving to Congressmen On both sides of the aisle, well-known personalities echoed anti-Semitic ideas, often via the Internet.

Beyond the iconic charactersThere are clear signs that anti-Semitism is becoming more widespread. In 2021, using the latest available data, the Anti-Defamation League reported that antisemitic incidents in the United States reached its highest ever. According to him, 85% of Americans believe that there is at least one anti-Jewish trope Another Anti-Defamation League pollAnd about 20% believe six or more bypasses — a sharp increase from just four years earlier. In addition, Jewish college students report increasing feeling insecureAnd shunned or harassed on campus.

All this is placed on top of a spreading layer Lack of knowledge about the Holocaust. like International Holocaust Remembrance Day Curriculum – January 27, the day Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated – it is important to rethink how educators Like me Design Lessons on Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust.

Rather than teaching the Holocaust as an isolated event, educators must grapple with how it relates to anti-Semitism past and present. And that means adapting to the way people learn and live today: online.

Toxic information landscape

The online ecosystem where antisemitism thrives today is a Wild West of information And misinformation is largely unmonitored, distributed in an instant, and posted by anyone. Social media posts and news feeds are frequent Filtered by algorithms The range of content users receive is narrowing, reinforcing already prevalent beliefs.

Major platforms Like TikTokwith high growth among young people, it can be Used to promote anti-Semitismas well as lesser known applications Like Telegram.

According to the 2022 report of the United Nations, 17% of public TikTok content related to the Holocaust either rejected or denigrated it. The same is true of nearly one in five Holocaust-related posts on Twitter and 49% of Holocaust content on Telegram.

An emerging danger is AI technology. New AI resources offer potential educational tools — but also the risk of unchecked spread of misinformation. For example, AI character And Historical figures chat allow you toChat ‘with a historical figureincluding those associated with the Holocaust: from victims like the Holocaust diarist Anne Frank For perpetrators like Joseph GoebbelsPropaganda Minister of Adolf Hitler.

These sites come with warnings that character responses can be fabricated and that users should verify historical accuracy, but inaccurate answers can easily be misled.

Another potential AI risk is deep fake videos. Media experts warn of potential for instabilityThe decay of the truth“the inability to tell what is real and what is fake, as the amount of synthetic content multiplies. Holocaust scholars prepare to fight how historical sources and teaching materials It can be manipulated by deepfakes. There is a particular concern of that Deepfakes will be used to manipulate or undermine the testimony of survivors.

Media Culture

Much of my studies deal with contemporary approaches to teaching the Holocaust – for example, need To rethink education As the number of Holocaust survivors who are still able to tell their stories is rapidly declining. Addressing today’s toxic information landscape is another fundamental challenge that requires innovative solutions.

As a first step, educators can foster media literacy, the knowledge and skills to navigate and critique information online, and teach learners to approach sources with sound criticism and an open mind. The main strategies For K-12 students It involves training them to think about who is behind certain information and what evidence is presented and to investigate the originators of an unknown source online by seeing what trusted websites say about their information or authors.

Media Culture It also entails identifying the source’s author, genre, purpose, and point of view, as well as considering one’s point of view. Finally, it is important to keep track of claims, quotes, and the media Return to the original source or context.

Apply these skills to the Holocaust unit May focus on implicit recognition stereotypes And sources of disinformation online often depend on who they are, what they are interested in, and what their purpose is. Lessons can also analyze how social media is used managed Holocaust denial And check out popular formats of anti-Semitism on the Internet, eg deepfake videosmemes and troll attacks.

Learning in the digital age

Holocaust educators They can also embrace new technologies, rather than simply lamenting their shortcomings. For example, long after survivors are dead, people will be able to “talk” to them in museums and classrooms using Specially registered certificates And natural language technology. Such software can match a visitor’s questions with relevant portions of pre-recorded interviews, responding almost as if they were talking to the visitor in person.

There are also immersive virtual reality programs that combine recorded survivor testimonies with virtual reality visits to concentration camps, survivor towns, and other historical sites. One of these exhibits isReturn journeyat the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center. Not only can VR experiences transport viewers to such locations in a more realistic way than traditional lessons, but they also allow learners to partially determine how to interact with the virtual environment. In interviews I conducted for my current research, viewers reported Virtual reality experiences of the Holocaust make them feel emotionally involved with a survivor.

Society’s “family tree”.

People often learn about themselves by exploring their family trees, examining legacies handed down from ancestors and telling stories around the dinner table – which helps people understand who they are.

The same principle applies to understanding society. Study the past It provides a road map of how past people and events have shaped today’s conditions, including anti-Semitism. It is important for young people to understand this The terrifying history of antisemitism It did not originate with the Holocaust. lessons Leading students to consider how indifference and cooperation fuel hate – or how ordinary people help stop it – can inspire them to speak and act in response to rising anti-Semitism.

Holocaust education is not a neutral endeavour. As a survivor and researcher Elie Wiesel He said upon acceptance He was awarded the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize, “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, not the victim.”

Alan Marcus Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Connecticut.

This article first appeared in Conversation.

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