FILE PHOTO: Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies at a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington, U.S., October 23, 2019. REUTERS/Erin Scott/File Photo

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

Facebook updated its hate speech policy to ban any content that denies or distorts the Holocaust, following a year of consultations with external experts as well as an increase in online attacks on marginalized groups. Facebook’s blog post about the policy change cited a recent survey by Claims Conference that found almost a quarter of respondents ages 18-39 said they believed the Holocaust was a myth, that it had been exaggerated or they weren’t sure. In addition, Facebook will direct users that search for terms linked to the Holocaust or its denial of credible information. 

“My own thinking has evolved as I’ve seen data showing an increase in anti-Semitic violence, as have our wider policies on hate speech. Drawing the right lines between what is and isn’t acceptable speech isn’t straightforward, but with the current state of the world, I believe this is the right balance,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a post regarding the change. 

This represents a change from Zuckerberg’s previous stance. In a 2018 interview with Recode, he said he found Holocaust denial to be deeply offensive, but added, “At the end of the day, I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong.”

Anti-Defamation League (ADL) CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said, “We are relieved that Facebook has finally taken the step that we have been asking them to take for nearly a decade.” He noted that ADL has been calling on Facebook to change its policies regarding Holocaust denial since 2011.

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

Facebook to Ban Posts That Deny Holocaust, Reversing Policy – Bloomberg – 10/12/2020
Facebook Inc. will ban posts that deny the Holocaust in a reversal of a long-held and controversial policy. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, who has been lobbied by civil rights groups such as the Anti-Defamation League to make the change, said he is concerned about the “current state of the world” and hate-based violence.

Facebook Decides Holocaust Denial Content Is Bad, Actually – HuffPost – 10/12/2020
A “well-documented rise in anti-Semitism globally and the alarming level of ignorance about the Holocaust, especially among young people,” Bickert said, prompted the long-overdue change. The announcement makes no mention of how Facebook itself contributed to that anti-Semitic rise. The social media platform has become a clearinghouse for misinformation concerning virtually every subject, including Holocaust denials and anti-Semitism in general.

Facebook bans Holocaust denial amid rapid rise in “deceptive” content – Ars Technica – 10/12/2020
The policy is a complete 180 for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who in a 2018 interview specifically described Holocaust denial as the kind of “deeply offensive” speech he nonetheless felt should be permitted on the platform. The next day, amid blowback, he “clarified” his position.

Facebook bans Holocaust denial on its platform – Axios – 10/12/2020
Starting today, if people search for the Holocaust on Facebook, the company will start directing them to authoritative sources to get accurate information. In a blog post explaining the policy, Facebook’s VP of content policy Monika Bickert says, “Enforcement of these policies cannot happen overnight.” “There is a range of content that can violate these policies, and it will take some time to train our reviewers and systems on enforcement,” she writes. “We are grateful to many partners for their input and candor as we work to keep our platform safe.”

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

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