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Antisemitism in the Urban Dictionary and the responsibilities of online publishers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-34
JournalJournal of Contemporary Antisemitism
Issue number1
Early online date19 Dec 2020
Accepted/In press5 Jan 2020
E-pub ahead of print19 Dec 2020
Published19 Dec 2020


King's Authors


This article proposes a typology of three broad means through which bigotry may be promoted through lexicography, and then exemplifies each with demonstrably antisemitic examples drawn from the Urban Dictionary: a global top-1000 website built upon user-generated content. It argues that the Urban Dictionary’s founding principles have directly facilitated the site’s exploitation as a platform for the dissemination of antisemitic hate speech and white supremacist ideology. These principles can be seen as typifying the free speech absolutism which became dominant within the US tech industry during the 1990s. However, the right to free expression cannot reasonably be taken to exempt internet companies from responsibility for content whose publication they facilitate.

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