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Facebook to ban Holocaust denial posts under expanded hate speech policy

Due to "the well-documented rise" in ignorance about the Holocaust, the social media platform has decided to take a strong stand against content that perpetuates anti-Semitism.

Facebook to ban Holocaust denial posts under expanded hate speech policy
Image Source: Getty Images/ 80th Anniversary Of Kristallnacht Pogroms Nears. (Photo by Sean Gallup)

Facebook has officially expanded its content policy to ban posts that perpetuate anti-Semitism. The company's vice president of content policy Monika Bickert announced in a post that the platform would remove any content that "denies or distorts the Holocaust." The move comes after founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated that though he found such posts "deeply offensive," Facebook would not police content on the social media platform. In her announcement, Bickert cited a recent survey that discovered almost a quarter of adults in the US between the ages of 18 and 39 believed the Holocaust was a myth, CNN reports.




She wrote in her blog post that the decision to expand the company's policy was "supported by the well-documented rise in anti-Semitism and the alarming level of ignorance about the Holocaust." Now, Facebook users looking for content about the Holocaust will be directed to credible information related to Holocaust denial. Zuckerberg, too, uploaded a post following the announcement on Monday. He explained why his stance on policing content had changed. "I've struggled with the tension between standing for free expression and the harm caused by minimizing or denying the horror of the Holocaust," he wrote. "But with the current state of the world, I believe this is the right balance."




In 2018, he had strongly maintained that the website should not police content. He said in an interview with Recode's Kara Swisher, "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. I don't think that they're intentionally getting it wrong." Evidently, Zuckerberg has come a long way, finally understanding that such content, though void of bad intention, could still be harmful. Facebook has, of course, had a questionable and inconsistent record when it comes to monitoring dangerous or erroneous information. Only recently did the platform take down some posts from United States President Donald Trump that violated its policies. However, another post by Trump that claimed, without evidence, that he is immune to coronavirus, still remains live on the website.




Earlier this summer, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) published the results of an extensive investigation they conducted of Holocaust denial forums on Facebook. The group found several instances of conspiratorial anti-Semitism that were in violation of the company's policies on hate speech. In July, the same month the report was published, ADL led an advertiser boycott to protest Facebook's inaction. More than a thousand companies, including Starbucks and Ben & Jerry's, participated. ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt affirmed, "Facebook now needs to reassure the global community that it is taking meaningful and comprehensive steps to ensure that Holocaust deniers are no longer able to take advantage of Facebook's various platforms to spread anti-Semitism and hate."



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