Human rights organization finds hate speech is on the rise online

Hate speech is on the rise online according to an upcoming report from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a global human rights organization.

The center releases a digital terrorism and hate report each year.

"This is the marketing platform of the planet. This is where we shop and this is where our kids are targeted for both recruitment and demonization on social media," said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean and director of global social action for the center.

The group held news conferences in Springfield with state lawmakers and in Chicago with Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart discussing the report.

RELATED: Anti-Semitic flyers targeting politicians distributed in Glenview

"There is a dark side to social media. Social media spreads hate," said State Senator Laura Fine (D-17th District).

And what happens online can have real-life consequences.

"I saw that happen a couple of weeks ago in my own district when my neighbors were left with packages on their driveways spewing hatred and antisemitism," Fine said.

According to Chicago Police Department data, hate crimes rose 34% last year.

It's unclear if social media played a factor in any of the incidents, but Cooper said social media companies need to be mindful of hate speech on their platforms and how it impacts society.

"At the end of the day it's going to be up to the consumer and it's going to be up to our elected officials, not to dive in because any of us want to be speech police, but because they are making money off of hate right now and that's wrong," he said.
Copyright © 2022 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.