April 13, 2023

The Sinking of the Titanic Leads to a Surge in Online Antisemitism

Social media discourse around the sinking of the Titanic includes the classic antisemitic conspiracies of global Jewish control in general, and economic control in particular. As part of platforms’ hate speech policies, they must act to remove this content and put more emphasis on monitoring antisemitic code words that are designed to bypass enforcement measures and perpetuate antisemitism online.

Antisemitism Is the Oldest Disease

What do the sinking of the Titanic and Passover have in common? Antisemitism, of course.

Jewish people around the world have just finished celebrating Passover, where the story of their slavery in Egypt and following freedom is told. While all seders will discuss the suffering of the Jewish people under Egyptian rule, what is often left out is mention of the first recorded convention to discuss the genocide of the Jewish people. When the Jewish people began to multiply, Pharaoh convened what amounts to the original Wannsee Conference to discuss how to exterminate them,[1] and one of his methods was casting all the newborn Israelites males into the Nile.[2]

Throughout history, countless conspiracies have viciously blamed Jews for all manner of major global disasters. This week on April 14, we mark the 111th anniversary of one of the most prominent world events that took place at the beginning of the 20th century – the sinking of the Titanic. Not surprisingly, the antisemitic conspiracies and accusations against Jews also star prominently.

Screenshot of an Instagram post suggesting that the Rothschild family is to blame for the sinking of the Titanic.

The Rothschilds and the Titanic

As we approached the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, the CyberWell research team went through our database of antisemitic publications from 5 platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok) and analyzed social media posts in 3 different languages ​​(English, Arabic, and Italian) with an eye out for Titanic-related content. We found a recurring antisemitic trope in the publications – blaming the Rothschild family for the sinking of the ship. Why would the Rothschilds do this? Well, according to the theory, how else would they install themselves as the rulers of the world?

This conspiracy is delusional. It claims that the Rothschild family and its loyalists planted bombs on the ship and blew it up, thereby getting rid of three of their main rivals – Benjamin Guggenheim, Isidor Straus, and Jacob Astor. All three allegedly opposed and prevented the establishment of the Federal Reserve Bank, which, according to the conspiracy theory, is the control center of the “New World Order” of the Illuminati and the Freemasons headed by the Rothschilds. By eliminating these three men, the road to the establishment of the bank a year later was paved.

According to this conspiracy, the publicly accepted version – that the Titanic sank after colliding with an iceberg – is a cover story for Rothschild-led violence. In some of the publications we identified there is an expanded version of the theory, according to which the Rothschilds, through the sinking of the ship, brought about the collapse of the old world and the establishment of new small states. In doing so, they advanced their Zionist goal of establishing a Jewish empire in the form of the State of Israel. This just goes to show that some people will take any opportunity to twist events to blame Jews for the suffering of others.

Screenshot of a TikTok video advancing the antisemitic conspiracy theory that the Rothschild family deliberately sunk the Titanic to kill three men who would have been opposed to the establishment of the Federal Reserve.

In the above screenshot of a TikTok video, there is an image of three businessman who were aboard the Titanic – Jacob Astor, Isidor Strauss, and Benjamin Guggenheim – with the caption “Today these men would be worth $1 billion”. The explanatory text in Italian includes the antisemitic conspiracy theory that the Rothchild family deliberately sunk the Titanic to kill these men, as they would have opposed the establishment of the Federal Reserve.

Among the publications found in CyberWell’s database, the most dominant language spreading the antisemitic conspiracy is Arabic, as can be seen in the screenshot of an Arabic tweet below. This is consistent with CyberWell’s previous findings – that the removal of antisemitic content in Arabic is significantly lower than in English across social media platforms.

A screenshot of an antisemitic Tweet written in Arabic, suggesting that the Rothschild family orchestrated the sinking of the Titanic for their own financial benefit.

The Antisemitic Rothschild Myth

The Rothschild family conspiracy is one of the most prominent types of antisemitism found on social media platforms, as was also identified in CyberWell’s monitoring report in 2022. The Rothschild family – a famous Jewish banking family – is often used as a symbol of the conspiracy of global Jewish control. In many online posts, the family is accused of being behind significant harmful world events, such as both world wars, 9/11, and even the Holocaust. The malicious descriptions of the family are consistent with the classic antisemitic descriptions put on Jews: wicked, manipulative, greedy, etc.

As can be seen in publications related to the Titanic, the Rothschilds are sometimes mentioned as working together for global Jewish control along with the Rockefeller and Morgan families. Of course, the truth is the last thing that interests the inventors and perpetrators of conspiracy theories – even though neither the Rockefeller nor Morgan families are Jewish, the propagators perceive them as such.

Often the word ‘Rothschild’ is simply used as an alternative to “Jew” or “Jewish people” in order to avoid the eye of social media platform moderators. This coded word is just one of a series of similar words such as ‘Khazars’, ‘Khazarian Mafia’, and ‘Zionists’. By avoiding the use of the word ‘Jew’, antisemitic posts slip under the radar and remain online despite violating community standards and hate speech policies.

Screenshot of a YouTube video in Arabic propagating the antisemitic conspiracy theory that the sinking of the Titanic was deliberately caused by the Rothschild family.

Details for the above screenshot of an Arabic YouTube video:

Video title:Titanic is the smartest crime in history, they deceived you and said Titanic is a legendary love story only 🤫😮 and what is the connection to the Rothschild family

Video description: #Titanic #RothschildFamily. For more stories and mysteries of the book The *Protocols of the Elders of Zion #Titanic #crime_murder #Rothschildfamily

*For more information on the antisemitic “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, check out our blog on the Protocols and the World Cup.

The IHRA Definition of Antisemitism

As part of CyberWell’s ongoing methodology, we examine whether content on social media is antisemitic according to IHRA’s working definition of antisemitism, which is currently the most widely accepted definition of antisemitism around the world and includes 11 examples of antisemitism. In the case of the Rothschild conspiracy in general as well as the specific Titanic conspiracy that demonizes the Rothschilds and the Jews and blames them for the sinking of the ship, this content fits into examples 2 and 3:

How to Fight Evil?

Throughout history, from the days of ancient Egypt to modern times, antisemitism has taken different and varied forms. But today, when Jew-hatred is spread widely and easily through social media platforms, the challenge is greater than ever. CyberWell will continue to monitor and alert on antisemitic content that violates the platforms’ hate speech policies, and we call on you, our database users, to persist in reporting this content.

But the root of the problem lies in the conduct of policy enforcement, which requires a serious self-examination on the part of the platforms. Beyond content that is clearly antisemitic, violates hate speech policies, and yet is not enforced properly, platforms exercise even more restraint in removing antisemitic content when it does NOT explicitly mention Jews but rather uses coded words. This policy must change. What exists in the online space doesn’t just stay there – this grim virtual reality can and does lead to hate crimes against Jews in real life.

[1] Talmud Bavli, Sotah 11a.

[2] Shemot (Exodus) 1:22.

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