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12 Oct, 2020 18:41

Holocaust denial content banned by Facebook following longstanding criticism

Holocaust denial content banned by Facebook following longstanding criticism

Facebook has expanded its hate speech policy to prohibit any content that “denies or distorts the Holocaust.” The social media platform explained the move by the rise in ant-Semitism around the globe.

The decision “marks another step in our effort to fight hate on our services,” Monika Bickert, Facebook vice president of content policy, said in a statement released on Monday.

The restrictions are being imposed due to a “well-documented rise in anti-Semitism globally and the alarming level of ignorance about the Holocaust, especially among young people,” Bickert explained.

She also referred to a recent survey which revealed that more than 20 percent of Americans aged between 18 and 39 thought that the Holocaust was a myth or exaggerated, while one in 10 admitted they never even heard of the killing of millions of Jews by the Nazis.

Facebook users searching for terms related to the Holocaust or its denial will instead be directed to “credible information” on the issue on the platform, starting from later this year, Bickert added.

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Mark Zuckerberg wrote in another post that he had personally “struggled with the tension between standing for free expression and the harm caused by minimizing or denying the horror of the Holocaust.”

Facebook’s founder and CEO said that his own views on the issue had “evolved,” and he expressed confidence that the company has now achieved the “right balance” between the two.

In July, Zuckerberg found himself in hot water after offering the example of Holocaust denialism to illustrate his stance that Facebook shouldn’t be an arbiter of truth over content posted on the platform. 

He said that as a Jew himself, he considered the idea “deeply offensive,” but added: “I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong.”

Facebook has long faced criticism and demands from Holocaust survivors and various Jewish groups to take this kind of content down. The tech giant was also targeted by the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, which saw numerous companies pledging to suspend ads on Facebook-owned platforms over the company’s reluctance to tackle hate speech and misinformation.

Earlier this year, Facebook started banning conspiracy theories about Jews secretly running the world’s major institutions.

Last week, it blacklisted pro-Donald Trump conspiracy community, QAnon, due to its accounts “containing discussions of potential violence.” It also outlawed what it called “militarized language” several days after Trump launched an ‘Army for Trump’ website to recruit poll watchers in the upcoming election.

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According to Facebook, it removed some 22.5 million pieces of hate speech from the platform in just the second quarter of 2020.

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