Clubhouse is a live audio app that emerged during the COVID-19 lockdown. According to various online reports, it is “the top virtual hang-out for venture capitalists and tech-industry entrepreneurs, along with the occasional celebrity,” while Bloomberg News calls it a favoured haunt for “venture capitalists and other Silicon Valley insiders.”
The room, titled “Did Minister Farrakhan Tarnish His Legacy By Being Antisemitic?”, was said to have been widely in support of the antisemitic hate preacher, Louis Farrakhan, defending him against allegations of antisemitism previously levelled against him. Mr Farrakhan has called Judaism a “gutter religion” and had claimed that the Jews would face “God’s ovens” if they continued to oppose him, in a sick reference to the extermination camps of the Holocaust. He has also praised the Nazi leader, saying “Hitler was a very great man”. In addition, Mr Farrakhan has alleged that “Israelis and Zionist Jews” were involved in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
A Twitter user documented the chat, noting the several slurs that were used in reference to Jews, including “hymies,” “split-tongued liars,” “thieves” and “Satan spawn.” They also reported that members of the room were quoting and praising Hitler.
This room was shut down only after a prolonged period of antisemitic messages were shared. However, a second room appeared shortly after where the hateful messages continued.
One participant in the room said: “Voltaire said, ‘to find out who rules over you, find out who you can’t criticise.’” This quote is commonly misattributed to the French philosopher but in fact originated in an essay by Kevin Strom, an American neo-Nazi, white nationalist, and Holocaust denier.
The participant went on to state: “if you look and see who are the owners, who are the presidents, who are the CEOs of the six major media outlets that control everything that we hear, see, believe, and are told to believe in America, there is a synonymous energy that runs through it.”
Mr Stanfield, who is understood to be a regular user of the social media platform, was present in both rooms and a moderator in the second. It was said that while he did not contribute towards the antisemitic hate speech, he allowed it to continue without challenging it, and claimed that he wanted to “hear both sides.” Later on, in a discussion elsewhere, Mr Stanfield tried to distance himself from the offensive discussions, saying that the conversation had been “derailed”.
Mr Stanfield has since apologised, posting on Instagram on Friday: “I unconditionally apologise for what went on in that chat room, and for allowing my presence there to give a platform to hate speech. I am not an antisemite, nor do I condone any of the beliefs discussed in that chat room.“
Last year, Clubhouse found itself caught in controversy after antisemitic stereotypes were allegedly invoked during an online discussion it was hosting on relations between Jews and African Americans.
Some of those present reported that antisemitic tropes linking Jews with control of commerce and banking were repeatedly invoked during the conversation.
One Clubhouse member declared on Twitter that she had listened in for “only three minutes, but heard enough” in that time to close the app and leave the discussion. She tweeted: “There’s a room on Clubhouse right now that is literally just a bunch of people talking about why it’s ok to hate Jews so I’m done with that app for a while.”
Campaign Against Antisemitism continues its robust engagement with social media companies over the content that they enable to be published, and we continue to make representations to the Government in this connection.