Day before Pittsburgh synagogue attack, new study showed a spike in online, anti-Semitic harassment

Jeff Swensen/Getty Images(PITTSBURGH) -- Ahead of the looming midterm elections, far-right political extremists in the U.S. have ratcheted up online attacks and anti-Semitic harassment against Jewish candidates, journalists and other high-visibility members of the faith, according to a study released this weekend by the Jewish civil rights group the Anti-Defamation League.

The study was released just one day before a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue killed at least 11 people and wounded many more.

The study’s co-authors said in their report that political bots “are playing a significant role in artificially amplifying derogatory content over Twitter about Jewish users.

“Human users, however, still accounted for the majority of derogatory Twitter traffic,” according to the report.

It described the growing use of “Twitter bombing –- barraging hashtags associated with the Jewish community with highly politicized, and sometimes hateful, content in an effort to demobilize, co-opt and interrupt normal communication and organization over social media.”

The Twitter analysis examined 7,512,594 tweets and 8,183,545 hashtags between Aug. 31 and Sept. 17, 2018, and interviewed prominent Jewish figures in the U.S. 

Oxford scholar Samuel Woolley and co-author Katie Joseff -- who study computational propaganda -- cited a rise in both automation and anonymity in explaining the spike in online aggression.

“While each interview subject spoke of not wanting to let threats of the trolls affect their online activity, political campaigns, academic research or news reporting, they all admitted the threats of violence and deluges of anti-Semitism had become part of their internal equations,” wrote the authors, both researchers at the Institute for the Future’s Digital Intelligence Lab.

The study's look at social media comes as investigators are probing the online profile of the suspect in the shooting at Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Saturday. Robert Bowers, 46, who lives in Pittsburgh, allegedly killed 11 people and wounded several others.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Parents brawl during youth baseball game after disagreeing with 13-year-old umpire

Parents brawl during youth baseball game after disagreeing with 13-year-old umpirefstop123/iStock(LAKEWOOD, Colo.) -- A baseball game between a group of 7-year-old kids degenerated into an all-out brawl with parents throwing haymakers, other cowering for cover and a woman even jumping on someone's back.

The reason for the brawl: a parent didn't like the calls being made by a 13-year-old umpire.

The fight began at Westgate Elementary School in Lakewood, Colo., a suburb southwest of Denver, on Saturday at about noon as 15 to 20 adults got into a violent tussle, according to Lakewood police.

The brawl was still ongoing as Lakewood police arrived at the scene.

These adults took over the field and began assaulting each other on 6/15 during a youth baseball game. We're looking for any info, in particular to ID the man in the white shirt/teal shorts. Several people have already been cited in this fight and injuries were reported. pic.twitter.com/ieenhwCrbU

— Lakewood Police (@LakewoodPDCO) June 18, 2019

Police issued four citations for disorderly conduct, but said they are still searching for others involved in the fight.

Police are looking for an adult in a white T-shirt and teal shorts in particular because he can be seen in the video throwing sucker punches at people looking in the other direction. Police said it is unknown if this person is a parent of one of the children in the game.

There were a few minor injuries and one person suffered serious bodily injury, police told ABC News. No details on the injury were available.

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