“I don’t think we’ve seen a moment in recent memory where we have a day, an election specifically, that seems so likely to be marred by violence,” says Jonathan Greenblatt, the chief executive officer of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the 107-year-old organization set up to stop anti-Semitism and “to secure justice and fair treatment to all.” Before joining the ADL in 2015, Greenblatt was an entrepreneur who co-founded, and then sold, Ethos Water to Starbucks; he has brought a tech-savvy, data-driven approach to combatting hate crimes, focusing heavily on social media. He was a leading force in the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, which resulted in more than 1,100 corporations temporarily pulling ads from Facebook. He has worked closely with Sacha Baron Cohen: it was at an ADL event in 2019 that Baron Cohen, in a then rare out-of-character appearance, burst onto the scene as a stinging critic of social media as a forum for hate speech.
ADL’s research team closely tracks the activities of hate groups, and under Greenblatt, ADL established the Center for Technology and Society in Silicon Valley to use tools like machine learning and AI to track slanderous speech and share information with law enforcement and public officials. The center is staffed by techies who have previously worked at Reddit, Lyft and Twitter.