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Instagram has some explaining to do after users called out one of the platform’s filters for being anti-Semitic.
“Old School,” which is featured in the app’s Effect Gallery, gives the impression that the selfie-taker’s skin is covered in tattoos — including snakes, a Native American headdress, the words “pray for me” and what appears to be a swastika.
Sabrina Zohar, 31, a California clothing designer with more than 17,000 followers on Instagram, tried out the filter and was left “speechless” when it made it appear as if she had the Nazi symbol inked on her arm.
“This s – – t has to end, not just for Jews but for everyone,” she wrote to her followers. “Hitler and then nazis is not a joke or passive topic so let’s stop pretending it’s okay.”
“I understand what the symbol stands for and the multiple meanings,” Zohar, who founded the loungewear brand Softwear, told The Post via email. “But as someone that is Jewish, it’s hard to be reminded of the symbol that is so in your face.”
Zohar, who reported the filter for featuring a hate symbol, still posted the image, urging followers to also report it.
Anyone can submit a filter to be added to the Instagram Effect Gallery, and each filter is reviewed to ensure it doesn’t violate guidelines, including support of hate organizations.
A spokesperson for Facebook, which owns Instagram, said that the filter “does not violate our policies.” The company said they recognize that the imagery “can be used in cultural context that predates Nazism” and does not plan on removing the filter.
Anastasia Truita Tkachenko, the Russian creator of the filter, told The Post via direct message that the symbol in question is a Slavic symbol and “symbolizes good, the sun and life.” She noted that the symbol tilts its bent arms in a different direction — counter-clockwise — than the Nazi swastika.
Elana, a 29-year-old social media manager from New York City, who asked that her last name be withheld for privacy reasons, urged her 55,700 Insta followers to report the filter to the Anti-Defamation League.
“As the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor … I can not begin to tell you how triggering these images are to me,” Elana told The Post via email. “Growing up, I promised my family members to do everything in my power to ensure that something as horrific as the Holocaust never happens again. And I plan on continuing to keep that promise to them for as long as I have to.”
“This is yet another example of Facebook falling down on moderating even obvious anti-semitism on their platforms and is further evidence of their need to invest more heavily in content moderation as they expand to new forms of content,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League. “This symbol should have been caught in any review that Facebook undertook when approving various user created Instagram reel effects if they were centering the impact these filters could have on vulnerable and marginalized groups.”
And while the swastika originated as an emblem of peace in Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism as early as 3000 BCE, Zohar said that the “majority of people know that symbol to represent one thing”: Nazi hate.
“In a world where we are so sensitive to so many things, why is this just casually included on a filter?” said Zohar. “We should all just be more aware of what is harmful to one another.”
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