Craig Newmark, the billionaire philanthropist and founder of Craigslist, has donated $1 million to support the Anti-Defamation League’s work against online hate speech. The ADL today announced the gift from Craig Newmark Philanthropies to the ADL’s Silicon Valley-based Center for Technology and Society, which focuses on combatting the spread of extremism and hateful language on the internet.
The center has been active since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in tracking online racist attacks that have blamed groups like Asian Americans and Jews for Covid-19, as well as in preventing harassment like anti-Semitic ‘zoombombing.’
“With the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the nation and more extremists moving online, this grant could not come at a more critical moment,” said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt in a statement.
Since the start of the pandemic, the ADL has been collecting information on racist attacks, both physical and online, against Asian Americans that blame them for spreading Covid-19. The center has also found a proliferation on social media and extremist websites of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, like one that claims the coronavirus is a tool for Jews to expand their global influence.
“We know that the pandemic has had an outsized impact on vulnerable minority groups, including Asian Americans and Jewish Americans who are now being blamed and scapegoated online for creating and spreading the virus,” Newmark said in a statement.
Today’s donation is not the first gift Newmark has made to the ADL. He also gave the ADL $1.5 million in 2017 as a three-year donation, part of the seed capital to start the Center for Technology and Society, according to ADL spokesman Todd Gutnick. He also sits on the center’s tech advisory board, a group of 15 tech company founders and execs that helps the center work with the tech industry to find solutions to combat hate speech.
Newmark has made a raft of charitable donations recently, including $100,000 to J. earlier this month — half for general operating funds and the other half to sponsor J.’s continued reporting on efforts to combat anti-Semitism and other forms of hate.
“Maybe that’s the best way to fight anti-Semitism, by reminding everyone and ourselves that’s what we’re about,” he said. “Supporting the Jewish news is a really good way to do that.”
He has also supported the Forward and ProPublica and gave $20 million to CUNY’s journalism school, now called the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism.