College 'disinformation' centers suddenly silent as Hamas propaganda takes over social media

In recent years, colleges and universities have received major grants and funding directed toward fighting such false information.

The same institutions that have warned against 'misinformation' and 'disinformation' in the past are not addressing the ongoing spread of anti-Semitic fake news online.

Since the election of Donald Trump in 2016, many colleges and universities have been leading advocates of tackling “disinformation” and “misinformation.” When it comes to the spread of anti-Israel fake news, however, such institutions have seemingly made no efforts to apply their principles. 

With Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel starting on Oct. 7, there have been various online reports that deny the validity of the facts that the terrorist group has performed heinous acts like beheading children and raping women in the Jewish state. 

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“We saw boys and girls bound, who were shot in the head. Men and women burned alive. Young women who were raped and slaughtered. Soldiers who were beheaded,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu affirmed during a televised address to the nation on Oct. 11.

Unsurprisingly, Hamas spokesman Izzat al-Risheq responded by stating that reports of the group killing and raping Israelis had “no evidence to support such claims and lies.” Instead, he shifted the blame back towards Israel, saying: “We strongly condemn the fabricated and baseless allegations promoted by the occupation in an attempt to cover up for the massacres, crimes and genocide committed in Gaza.”  

As noted by the Anti-Defamation League, numerous chapters of far-left groups like Black Lives Matter and the Democratic Socialists of America have since come to the defense of Hamas terrorists with a host of anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist messaging.

X, formerly known as Twitter, applied a “community note” warning to a post by conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, who featured an image of a burnt Israeli baby to showcase the terrorist group’s crimes against Jews. Shapiro claims that the community note label was provided because X prematurely determined the image was “missing context” and AI-generated.

The platform has since removed the warning label, suggesting it validated the photowas not proven to be inauthentic. The grotesque image and several related photos of the atrocities performed by Hamas on infants were released by the Israeli government on Oct. 12 and first shared with U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. 

China’s state media has also been accused of promoting anti-Israel propaganda, according to Newsweek. In since-deleted posts, China was said to have shared images of white phosphorus bombs being deployed that had been used during unrelated events in Syria in 2018 and 2016. Newsweek blames the Chinese government, an ally of the anti-Israeli Iran government, for deliberately sharing misleading photos that would suggest Israel was defying international chemical weapons law and harming civilians in response to Hamas.

Campus Reform has covered many recent instances of American colleges participating in efforts to overcome misinformation and disinformation on major political issues. Such institutions, however, appear to remain silent in combatting the latest onslaught of online anti-Israeli disinformation. 

[RELATED: NSF grants nearly $7.5 million to universities developing anti-’misinformation’ tools]

In September 2021, Campus Reform reported that the National Science Foundation issued a $750,000 grant to the State University of New York at Buffalo to reduce disinformation. Currently, the school’s Center for Information Integrity makes no mentioning of the spread of misinformation and disinformation used against Israel either.

The Harvard Kennedy School oversees a Misinformation Review that offers content that is “fast-reviewed” by misinformation scientists and scholars. As of publication of this article, however, neither the review’s website nor its X account address any of the ongoing anti-Semitic misinformation or disinformation following the recent Hamas attack.

Similarly, Carnegie Mellon’s Center for Informed Democracy and Social Cybersecurity (IDeaS), which is said to specialize in the study of “disinformation, hate speech, and extremism online,” has not commented on the rise of anti-Israeli online information thus far.

Campus Reform has contacted the Center for Information Integrity, the Misinformation Review, and IdeaS for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.